Just as the season for most minor hockey teams has ended, for some elite players it’s actually ramping up. Spring tryouts, selection camps, and showcases are the norm for bantam age kids (13- and 14-year-olds) who choose to specialize in hockey.
At the end of April, I plan to attend such a showcase in Canmore: the Alberta Cup.
What is the Alberta Cup?
The Alberta Cup is one of the “Core Hockey Development Programs” organized by Hockey Alberta. Here’s how it works.
2016 Alberta Cup
April 28 to May 1
The province is divided into eight zones. Beginning in March, hundreds of U16 players compete to earn a spot on their respective zone team.
In April, the teams representing the eight regions of Alberta compete in a four-day tournament and the winner is crowned Alberta Cup Champion.
Assembling the best second-year bantam age players in one place gives scouts and coaches from the Western Hockey League a chance to assess the young hockey prospects. It’s also an opportunity for the participants to experience a very high level of competitive hockey. This is true for players and coaches, but also for many other specialists essential to the game like athletic therapists, equipment managers, administrators, and referees.
3 reasons I’m attending the Alberta Cup (and bringing my son and his friends)
- The hockey will be high-level, intense, and entertaining. The players involved in the tournament are always passionate and skilled. The tournament boasts alumnus like NHL stars Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers and Jay Bouwmeester of the St. Louis Blues.
- It’s a chance for my son to see what the next level looks like. He just completed peewee hockey and will move up to Bantam next season. In Hockey Canada’s Long Term Player Development (LTPD) pathway, my son is entering the “train to train” stage. This is an important crossroads that sees kids, who aspire to play at a higher level, begin to specialize in hockey. My son shows great interest in hockey. But it is important that if he pursues his passion, he does so of his own choosing. As the intensity and demands of the game increase, the Alberta Cup tournament will be a good opportunity for him to see firsthand what the next level looks like. It will help him appreciate the skills, dedication, and energy required to play hockey at the Bantam level.
- It’ll be inspirational for a group of 12-year-old kids. In addition to my son, I’ll also bring any of his friends who want to join us. There’s tremendous joy in watching kids dream and imagine what their lives could be like. At the Alberta Cup, what’s great is that the players who are inspiring them aren’t NHL athletes who are significantly older, but kids who are much closer to their own age.
Join me in Canmore or find a similar event in your province
If you’re a hockey fan and find yourself in the Canadian Rockies at the end of April, come and join me. I’m sure you’ll see some great hockey being played.
If you can’t come to Alberta, visit the website of your provincial hockey branch. Many such as Hockey BC, Hockey Manitoba, and Hockey Québec organize similar tournaments.
Photo: WHL/LA Media