Puck drop is right around the corner; Here’s what to watch for out of the gate
The bad news? It’s back-to-school season.
The good news? It’s hockey season.
While youth hockey players pack up their backpacks to begin another school year, they’re also loading up their hockey bags for the beginning of the fall hockey campaign.
While the Canadian hockey community may be waiting a few more weeks to really get going, the end of August marks the start of some big, early-season tournaments in both the United States and Europe.
Let’s take a look at some of the early-season offerings and tournaments the World Hockey Hub will be keeping an eye on as we put away our sunblock and dust off our preferred rink attire.
AAA Kickoff Classic
August 25 – 28, 2022
The AAA Kickoff Classic brings top talent to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a season-opening tournament in the 14U through 18U age groups. At the 14U level, eight teams will do battle, including two from Czechia — HC Trinec and the Pilsen Wolves. The six-team 15U division features the likes of Team Minnesota and New Hampshire’s Seacoast Performance Academy, while 10 teams show up for 16U, including Little Caesars, Team Wisconsin, and the Nashville Jr. Predators. The largest field is a 12-team 18U division.
Eastern Exposure Series
August 26 – 28, 2022
While the west coast of Michigan will have a big-time AAA tournament taking place, the east coast of the United States will be having one, as well. The NJ August Showcase for the Eastern Exposure Series is bringing a select group of teams together in the same 14U through 18U age brackets for an early-season tune-up. At 14U, the St. Lawrence Steel, Mercer Chiefs, New Jersey Devils and New Jersey Jets will square off for a five-game weekend, while the older groups will play three-game showcase-style tournaments. Showing up in the older brackets are the likes of the North Jersey Avalanche, the Philadelphia Hockey Club, the New Jersey Rockets, and the PAL Jr. Islanders. It will be some tough competition for teams that will be spending a lot of time together this year.
Sweden Hockey Trophy
The Sweden Hockey Trophy tournament series kicks off Sept. 1 – 4 for the 2008 age group. 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 birth years will follow suit over the following weeks, making Stockholm the place to be in Sweden. This preseason event regularly sets the tone for top teams in the country, separating contenders from pretenders. It isn’t just local, either. Teams from Finland, Norway, Czech Republic, Slovakia and other Central European countries have competed in this Swedish tournament in recent years.
September 9 – 11, 2022
Another top-level, early-season Scandinavian event is the U15 DIF Elitcup, set to showcase 2008s next month. Hosted by one of the top clubs in the country, Djurgårdens IF welcomes other reputable programs like Frölunda HC, Färjestad BK and a select few others to compete in an elite eight-team tournament. Nearly 30 games in three days of some of the best teams in Sweden.
September 3 – 4, 2022
Tuki-Areena in Rauma, Finland, will host a bevy of teams from the 2010 age group across three different divisions. The AAA+ Division features arguably the top eight clubs in the country with Jokerit, Kärpät, and Tappara leading the way.
August 19 – 21, 2022
Just concluded over the weekend, but worth noting another event out of Finland. The Symppisturnaus featured 16 teams at the U15 age group across two divisons: AAA+ and AAA. Only one team was shut out on the weekend; each of the other 15 teams all picked up at least one point in the three-game round robin. Tappara Black defeated KalPa Black 3-2 in the AAA+ championship game; the last of 23 tournament games to be decided by two goals or fewer over the weekend.