More than 500 teams expected to be in the Chicago for CCM World Invite
The party starts Thursday, while the games officially start on Friday. This weekend, Chicago will be the busiest city on the planet when it comes to youth hockey. Roughly 528 teams will be in the Windy City for the annual CCM World Invite.
A total of 10,032 players will be playing in a combined 1,210 games from Nov. 4-6, as the tournament continues to claim the honor of the largest youth hockey event in the world.
Because of those grandiose attendance numbers, most age groups are split into as many as three sub-divisions — Supertacks, Jetspeed and Ribcor. This provides a competitive balance for all teams involved. Because of this, our focus is narrowed to the Supertacks Divisions that include elite and top-level AAA teams.
A Loaded 2009 Division of Top Teams
We’re starting with the 2009 birth-year because it reads like a USA Hockey Nationals lineup, not a November tournament.
Six of the top 10 teams in the country are slated to compete in the World Invite. The No. 1-ranked Chicago Reapers will look to defend home ice, while being challenged by No. 2 St. Louis AAA Blues, No. 4 Windy City Storm, No. 6 Little Caesars, No. 7 New Jersey Rockets and No. 10 Chicago Mission.
An added bonus? The Huron-Perth Lakers, ranked No. 9 in Canada, crossing the border to join the crowded field.
Big games appear on the calendar rather quickly, as Little Caesars and New Jersey Rockets square off at 2:55 p.m. on Friday. Elimination rounds should be where the most drama happens, as these top teams will likely clash in playoffs.
Too Many Teams For One Division
Continuing down in age groups, the 2010 birth year has so many participating clubs that they made Supertacks Crosby and Supertacks Ovechkin Divisions. The 2010 Supertacks Crosby has the highest-ranked teams competing, and there are three from the American Top 10. The No. 3 Chicago Mission, No. 4 Anaheim Jr. Ducks and No. 10 Chicago Fury will clash in the top 2010 division.
American teams like Florida Alliance, South Shore Kings and Top Gun Elite will travel from across the country to challenge the top group. Additionally, the Sun County Panthers join the mix from Canada. The trio of top-rated teams will have plenty of hurdles to clear if they want to win a World Invite title.
International Opponents In Illinois
In the 2011 Supertacks Division, the hometown Windy City Storm is the only ranked competitor — they check in at No. 5. The K&B Slovakia Stars surely don’t want to waste a trip all the way across the globe though. There are plenty of storied programs showing up in Chicago, as well. The 16-team field contains the Los Angeles Jr Kings, Sun County Panthers, Chicago Mission, St. Louis AAA Blues, Belle Tire, Oakville Rangers, among others.
Going back up the age groups, the 16U Supertacks field is wide open. None of the teams are ranked, but that doesn’t mean it’s a group to sleep on. Minnesota and Michigan both show up with all-star teams of high school hockey players in Minnesota SDP and Michigan Hockey Advancement, while the Wenatchee Wild and Elgin-Middlesex Canucks represent the Canadian contingent. There’s also three California teams in the Los Angeles Jr. Kings, Golden State Elite and Anaheim Jr. Ice Dogs.
Home Cooking For Chicago Mission
The 15O age group — split into Crosby and Ovechkin divisions — has some ranked teams, on the other hand. In the Crosby Division, No. 1 ranked Chicago Mission looks to win a tournament without leaving home, while No. 3 Mount St. Charles arrives in the Windy City looking to make some noise. Those two will be challenged by No. 5 Little Caesars, and a bevy of other squads looking for some hardware. Watch out for Minnesota SDP, Minnesota Blue Ox and Team Wisconsin, among others.
And to round things out, the 2008 age group is led by No. 2 Chicago Mission. They are the only ranked team out of the 16 participants, but nonetheless, they will have challenges. The Burlington Eagles, Lambton Jr. Sting, and Markham Waxers all come in from Canada, while in-state rivals Chicago Fury and Team Illinois will try to make things rough, too.