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What makes hockey tournaments great?

Is it hockey season already? Or did it ever really stop. Across Canada, minor hockey coaching staffs are already talking about which will be the best tournaments for their winter teams, and, most of these teams are yet to be chosen! For many of the more prestigious tournaments, information is already on websites and the entry forms are flying in (I know that because we are supposed to be registering my son’s team in two tournaments asap!)

As a Hockey Mom in Canada, I know that tournaments (both local and weekend getaways) are  events that can either be a real blast…or a real bust. When you are taking your kid(s) to one, you hope for certain things. When you are organizing one…well, that’s a completely different story.

Regardless, tournaments are a “mainstay” in minor hockey. And truthfully, some are run really well, while others, well….not so much. And truthfully, I think that there are some really simple things that can be done to turn an OK tournament into a great tournament. So, for this week, we will talk about hockey tournaments.

I have composed a very brief list of what, in my opinion, makes a good tournament. This list is from MY perspective, and you may agree or disagree. I enjoy tournaments where:

  1. You play other teams of the same calibre. Nothing is worse than driving hours to a tournament to get COMPLETELY blown away, or, just as bad, completely annihilate the other teams. My kids have the most fun when it’s good, competitive hockey. I have more fun, too.

  2. The team has decent game times. I know scheduling seems easy when you are complaining about the decisions someone else has made, but I really appreciate when teams from further away are given later morning starts, and when attention is paid to ensuring teams (when possible) don’t have especially long waits between games, or don’t have to play back to back. Sometimes just a little attention by the convenor goes a long way. Those long waits at the arena can get especially long when you are lugging around a two year old….

  3. There is decent food for the kids, and some decent options for siblings and parents. I’m not sure if all tournaments provide lunches for the kids, but typically the tournaments we attend, do.  I appreciate that. I also like tournaments where there are options to feed my family (and other kids) something other than greasy arena fries. If the team organizing the tournament is selling food as a fundraiser…even better. I’m happy to support them.

  4. There is a balance between fundraising and outright money grabbing. I know that tournaments can be important fundraisers for associations for teams. For that reason, I’m pretty generous about contributing, buying 50-50 tickets, whatever. But, if you want me to participate in all those fundraising activities once I’m inside, please don’t charge me admission at the door. We Hockey Moms are not “made of money” (as we like to remind our kids), so there has to be a balance. Tournaments set up as blatant money grabbers are a real bummer.

  5. You walk into a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Though this my last point, I think it is the most important aspect of all. It really matters to me if the people running the tournament greet you with a smile rather than brush you off. I mean, hey…if I’ve just dragged my family halfway across the province to come to your community to play hockey, please show me you are happy we are here!  If the people organizing the tournament (usually hockey moms) seem to be having a good time, then it makes a real difference to how the rest of us (the visitors) feel about being there.

That is my brief summary of what makes a good tournament. Pretty simple, really, but when I think of the tournaments I’ve attended, those are the things that can make or break the weekend.  Do you have other ideas? Leave a message on our Hockey Mom in Canada facebook page, or email

Happy hockey!

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