More than 200 mites, squirts, peewees and bantams will descend on Seven Bridges Ice Arena tomorrow and Saturday for the Chicago Blackhawks 3v3 Youth Hockey Tournament.
Skill development and fast-paced hockey will be the focus, with every tournament game played cross-ice as part of the Blackhawks’ effort to accelerate kids’ decision-making and skill building. Champions in each age classification will receive hats, medals and banners.
“It’ll be a great way for young players to have fun while maximizing their skill development,” said Eddie Olczyk, who played 16 seasons in the NHL, including five in his native Chicago. “Small-area games and 3-on-3 have been around for a long time, including back in the early 1970s, when I first started playing. The concept is very helpful for kids of all ages to learn how to make quick decisions in tight areas and get more puck touches.”
Each age classification will feature house and travel divisions, ensuring a competitive environment for all. Teams will play a minimum of three games leading up to the single-elimination final rounds. Off the ice, several Blackhawks alumni will be on hand to greet the players and sign autographs. Stan Mikita, who piled up 1,467 points in his hall-of-fame playing career, will be among them.
“I always enjoy visiting with the young hockey players and staff involved in the organization’s youth hockey initiatives,” said Mikita. “The popularity of these programs and the passion these kids have for their Blackhawks shows you just how much our great sport has grown in Chicago.”
The tournament, too, has grown in its second season. The Blackhawks are expecting nearly 50 teams to compete, and the mite classification sold out quickly.
“It’s a special event all around, from our alumni involvement to the skill-development aspect of the cross-ice hockey,” said Annie Camins, the Blackhawks youth hockey director. “We’re excited to build on what it was last year and host such a fun event. It’s a highlight for the kids, but it’s a highlight for us, too.”