Crawford Center to host three youth tournaments

Shawano will have five teams competing
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Contributed Photo The Shawano Squirt B team took on Mosinee last Saturday, earning a 4-1 victory. Pictured on the ice for Shawano (white jerseys) are, from left, Wyatt Schroeder, Max Huntington, Quinten Harkey and Kielian Armbruster.

The Crawford Center will be the home to a trio of youth hockey tournaments over the next month.

Along with providing local teams the opportunity to face off against teams from around the state or even ones from Michigan and Illinois, the tournaments will help bring plenty of money into the city.

“For these hockey tournaments, you are talking about some of the slowest times of the year for hotels and restaurants. It’s that January and February kind of lull,” said Shawano Hockey League President Jeff Huntington. “The tournament this weekend is going to bring in 180 kids, so that’s 180 families if you think about it. They’ll be staying at some of the hotels, they’ll be eating at the restaurants, spending money at gas stations, shopping at the stores.”

Starting today and running through Sunday, a total of 12 teams will take part in the squirt B and C tournament. Shawano will have a pair of teams competing over the weekend, with those teams consisting of 9-10 year olds.

Shawano has one team registered in the five-team bantam C tournament that will take place from Jan. 25-27. Players on these teams are 13-14 years old.

Shawano will have two more teams taking part in the pee wee B and C tournament from Feb. 8-10. Rosters for the 14 registered teams will be comprised of players ages 11-12.

The Shawano teams are not made up of only Shawano athletes, but include players from Bonduel, Clintonville, Gresham, Pulaski and some from Menominee County. There are over 100 players currently enrolled in the Shawano Hockey League.

The fact that the Crawford Center is able to host three tournaments is a strong testament to the Shawano Hockey League’s fundraising efforts.

Unlike most other youth sports, youth hockey has to generate its own funds mostly due to the fact that the Crawford Center is a county-owned building.

Some fundraising is done through some of the private companies that sponsor the league, buying signs that are on display at the rink. Other private companies donate specifically to the league to support the youth sport.

Parents of the players also do their share of fundraising, whether it be a brat fry in the summer and having a fair stand at the Shawano County Fair. The staff working during the three tournaments will primarily be parent volunteers.

The tournaments also serve as strong fundraisers, as competing teams need to pay a fee to join. Concession stands will also be available at the tournaments, which also helps the league financially.

Another big fundraiser for the league is the open skates that are held at the Crawford Center, where families are able to rent out skates and enjoy time on the ice during some weekends.

A few private families, including the Crawford Foundation, have also helped with the program. Huntington said those funds are primarily used towards the gear and equipment used in the league.

“We’re probably one of the only youth hockey organizations in the state, that I know of at least, that provides free gear — helmets, pads, etc. — to the kids coming into the program. They can utilize the gear as long as they need. Plus, because of all our fundraising, our fees are generally fairly low compared to a lot of other organizations. One thing that the Crawford family always pushed was the ability for anybody to come play hockey.”

While the fees for players to join the league are low, getting your share of youth hockey over the next month is free. There is no admission fee to get into the Crawford Center for any of the three tournaments over the next month.

Some local businesses also provided items that will be raffled off during the tournaments. There will also be a bake sale.