If Center Ice Magazine publisher Don Olea realizes his dream, Nashville will be the site of what may be a one-of-a-kind hockey tournament at the end of the 2006-07 season.
Olea, who launched Center Ice Magazine in 2004, is laying the groundwork for an event that would draw the top 16 high school ice hockey teams from eight states across USA Hockey’s Southeastern District to the Music City next March.
Fifteen of them would be the champions of their high school leagues or districts; the 16th would be an at-large squad selected by the tournament’s organizing committee.
The event would be called the Center Ice Tournament of Champions. Up for grabs would be the Publisher’s Cup, provided by Olea and Center Ice Magazine.
The tournament, which would be held at Southern Ice in Franklin, Tenn., just outside Nashville, would most likely be scheduled for the weekend of March 23-25. That would sandwich it between the Southeastern District Tournament and USA Hockey Nationals, ensuring that all travel team players would be available to their high school teams.
“We are unaware of any other high school tournament throughout the country that follows this type of format,” says Olea.
“We have spoken to the marketing departments of the Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals and Atlanta Thrashers, and they have shown a keen interest in helping to sponsor, in some form, this tournament. We want this to be the premier high school hockey tournament within the district.”
Olea envisions the Center Ice Tournament of Champions attracting NCAA, American Collegiate Hockey Association and junior coaches, as well as the Elite Edge Hockey Showcase coaches and scouts.
“We also will be extending invitations to all coaches and scouts from the ‘Southern Six’ NHL clubs, the CHL, ECHL and SPHL,” says Olea, adding that their presence should generate interest and excitement among the players.
||The anticipated lineup for next year’s inaugural event includes these champions:
- Alabama – Birmingham and Huntsville.
- Georgia – Atlanta
- Florida – Lightning and Panther divisions
- Maryland – the two Public School Conference champions
- North Carolina – Charlotte and Raleigh
- South Carolina – Charleston
- Tennesee – Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville
- Virginia – the two NVSHL (Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League) conference champions
In the event one of the league or state champions is not available to compete, the runner-up will be invited. Each team in the Center Ice Tournament of Champions will be guaranteed three games.