Though the thoughts may be in some of the parents or grandparents' heads, most every hockey player at this level is likely not going to become a professional athlete. But that doesn't mean they can't be successful while they're playing the game. And this weekend we will see one of the largest tournaments in the hockey come to Kalamazoo's Wings Events Center complex and Wings West Ice Arena for the USA Hockey 14U Tier II National Championship.
Play begins on Thursday, March 31st, and the championship in Monday, April 4 (at Wings West). Forty-four teams with some 800 players are coming to Kalamazoo. The local hosts, the Kalamazoo Optimists Hockey Association have been running a program since 1965, but this is the first time they've bid host a tournament this big.
Here's the weekend schedule.
- Three-Game Round Robin Divisional: March 31 to April 2
- Quarter & Semi-Finals: April 3
- Championship Games: April 4 at Wings West
KOHA's Executive Director Matt Kakabeeke looks at this from a local point of view. “It’s a fantastic way for our local players, all who primarily learned to skate, play, and compete in KOHA, conclude their Tier II hockey journey with KOHA.”
Here's some interesting information about the local K-Wings 14U's: The 14U AA K-Wings roster of 18 includes players from the following school districts: Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan, Gull Lake, Vicksburg, Schoolcraft, Three Rivers, and Lakeview. The K-Wings 14U team just brought back the Indiana Irish Cup, won in Indianapolis; their third tournament championship of the season. The team is coached by former Kalamazoo Wings player and coach Wade Dawson, who played four years with the Wings and has lived here for some forty years.