Ski Town USA hosts hockey tourney

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Usually, the three Bonner boys are on three different hockey teams, forcing Dan and Kim Bonner to choose which son to go watch. This season, for the first time in five years, the trio is on two teams, making it much easier on the parents.

On Friday, Kim Bonner takes off to watch Jace play with the high school team in Colorado Springs. Brad is also on the team but is out with an injury. Dan Bonner, meanwhile, will stay home to coach youngest son Eric and the Bantam A Steamboat team in the Ski Town USA Hockey Festival.

Pete Dailey is also a coach for the 13- and 14-year-old players.

The Ski Town USA Hockey Festival is the primary fund-raiser for the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association and will feature three local teams at the A level in the Pee Wee (11-12), Bantam (13-14) and Midget Minor (15-16) divisions.

Steamboat's traveling club teams are part of the Continental Divide Youth Hockey League, but most of the teams traveling to Steamboat this weekend participate in the Colorado Competitive Youth Hockey League.

"That's why we are kind of excited about this weekend," Dan Bonner said. "The winners of each league meet in March so that normally would be the only opportunity we would have to play teams from the CCYHL. This weekend, we have Fort Collins, Boulder and Littleton."

The Bantam A team opens the tournament at 10:30 a.m. Friday against Fort Collins. All hockey games are at Howelsen Ice Arena.

The Pee Wee A team coached by George Bennett opens at 9 a.m. Friday against the NCYH club team from the Denver area. The Midget Minor A team, coached by Darren Malia, opens against Arvada at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

The Ski Town USA Hockey Festival serves as a hockey tournament and a fund-raiser to keep the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association going strong. Each Steamboat team contributes large raffle baskets to the tournament. A large assortment of concessions and T-shirts will be available. In addition, a silent auction will be held at the rink.

This year, the Ski Town USA Hockey Festival is being held at the same time as the Mountain Resorts Showdown at Steamboat World Cup B at Howelsen Hill, so the area around Howelsen Ice Arena and the ski jumps and cross country courses figures to be congested.

If possible, people are asked to walk or take the free bus to downtown Steamboat Springs to avoid parking problems. The city is plowing areas near the rodeo grounds for additional parking, but the large number of out-of-town visitors expected for the hockey tournament, coupled with those wanting to watch one of the season's most prestigious skiing events, is likely to create parking problems downtown.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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