Each year, Minnesota Hockey, as an affiliate of USA Hockey, sanctions nearly 1,000 invitational tournaments. These tournaments have a mutually beneficial purpose for both the teams playing and the associations hosting.
Teams register for invitational tournaments to find out how good they are outside of their district and to face new competition, preferably teams from different parts of the state or continent. Associations host tournaments primarily as a fundraiser in order to defray the cost of hockey for their members.
"Without our tournament revenue each year, our fees would be 25 percent higher for every player," said Amy Janicke, director of tournaments for the Osseo Maple Grove Hockey Association. "Tournament revenue is a huge positive line item in our association budget each year."
Besides the hard costs of ice, medical professionals and referees, associations rely heavily on their members to handle the rest of the operation. Each weekend, a tournament will rely on hundreds of volunteer hours to man the clock, keep track of score sheets and do the public address announcing. On top of the in-game operations, an association has a tournament director who manages the bevy of details necessary to put on a successful event.
"Without a great core of dedicated volunteers, the quality of our events would not be what they are today," said Janicke.
The term "volunteer" is defined differently at each association. Some parents are required by the association to serve hours and others allow parents to work in exchange for lower fees.
"I love being involved in the process of putting on a great event," said Kurt Rolling, director of tournaments for the Bloomington Amateur Hockey Association. "Each weekend we run an event, we rely on hundreds of people to show up with a smile. Without them, none of this would be possible."
In addition to lining up a small army of volunteers to help, following are a few tips to get the most out of your local tournament: