Canadian group offers ideal spring tourney options
Two of the largest and most well-established youth hockey tournaments in Western Canada are ready for another season, and while they’re still a few months away, organizers of the Alberta Champions Cup and Stampede Challenge are encouraging teams to register soon so they don’t miss out.
Kip Reghenas, who heads up the team of veteran hockey men and women that run the tournaments, said approximately 5,000 players are expected for the Alberta Champions Cup, which will run from April 22-24, 2016 in Edmonton and Calgary, and as many as 3,200 players will lace up their skates for the Stampede Challenge in Calgary, which will be showcased from June 3-5, 2016.
The long-running events – spread across multiple arenas in each city – have become some of the most popular tournaments of the spring hockey season for players ages 6-13.
The Alberta Champions Cup was first played in 2004, and the Stampede Challenge started 22 years ago. Both have grown exponentially since their humble beginnings.
Reghenas said teams often consider the Alberta Champions Cup as a good way to kick off their spring seasons, and the Stampede Challenge as a “go-to” tournament to close out the spring season.
“The Alberta Champions Cup really gives teams a gauge for where they are in terms of skill level,” he said. “By the time the Stampede Challenge comes around, they’ve sort of figured out what to expect from their group, and it’s a great way to finish up the spring with some good competitive hockey.
“It doesn’t hurt that the weather in Calgary is typically ideal in early June, too, and it’s a popular time of year for family vacations.”
For both tournaments, teams are guaranteed four games and are separated into Elite, Gold, Silver Major, Silver Minor and Bronze divisions. The Alberta Champions Cup also offers six girls divisions at its Edmonton rinks.
Coaches and team managers can register for the Alberta Champions Cup (AlbertaChampionsCup.com) though April 9 or until divisions are filled, and they can sign up for the Stampede Challenge (StampedeChallenge.com) though May 2 or until divisions are filled.
As an extra incentive, Reghenas added that teams can save $90 on their registrations by e-mailing him directly at email@example.com and mentioning California Rubber.
Reghenas and his team of administrators aim to make the tournaments as well-run and organized as any, making the experience first-class for players, parents and coaches. And by having multiple divisions for players of different ages and competitive levels, it makes it easy for families to be able to attend together.
“I think the one thing that people always tell us they like is how well organized our tournaments are,” Reghenas said. “The professionalism we bring to these events is a really big selling point.”
Players enjoy that gold, silver, bronze and bronze-finalists medals are awarded in each division, Reghenas said, and there are individual player awards as well.
Both tournaments have their own mobile app that helps coaches, parents and players track scores, stats and schedules, and there are plenty of attractive entertainment options outside of the rinks to keep families busy between games.
Reghenas also thinks the two tournaments are a good fit for teams from California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico because of the proximity to Alberta as well as the strength of the U.S. dollar versus the Canadian dollar.
“There really aren’t many tournaments our size,” Reghenas said. “In contrast to the smaller tournaments that might focus on one age group, our events offer a wide range, which is great for families.
“Given that these tournaments have been around for so many years, I feel like the proof is in the pudding.”
– Greg Ball