Sportsmanship Tourney starts Friday |

Sportsmanship Tourney starts Friday

But the local hockey season begins in earnest with the first weekend of the 23rd annual Vail Sportsmanship Tournament at Dobson Arena.

The Midget AA’s, Midget A’s and Pee Wee A’s take to the ice this weekend in what should be a good early-season test. But, more importantly, as the tournament’s name indicates, the Vail Junior Hockey Association hopes to cultivate the spirit of sportsmanship.

“Hockey is a unique sport,” VJHA director Jade Kersey said. “Two teams can go out and battle and compete very physically and then, in the end, shake hands. They can hang out and become friends off the ice. We’re hoping to promote that spirit within this tournament.”

To that end, not only will trophies be presented to the winning team in each division, but awards will go to the teams accumulating the fewest penalty minutes on the weekend.

The Midget AA’s are the defending champs at the tournament. Last year’s squad brought home the title with shootout wins over Aspen and Boulder. This year’s edition seems equally capable, having picked up a tournament win down in Arapahoe earlier this month. The AA’s face Foothills (Friday at 2:10 p.m.), Centennial (Saturday at 1 p.m.) and Front Range (Sunday at 11:50 a.m.). The Midget AA championship game is at 4:50 p.m., on Sunday.

The Midget A’s are coming off two wins at Southern Colorado last weekend and they’ll hope to parlay that momentum into this weekend. The A’s open against Hyland Hills on Friday at 7:10 p.m. The rest of their slate includes a 9:20 a.m. tilt Saturday against Southern Colorado and Steamboat on Sunday at 10:35 a.m. The Midget A title game is Sunday at 3:35 p.m.

The Pee Wee A’s round out the first weekend of the tournament with their first appearance of the year on home ice. The 11 and 12 year olds face Foothills (Friday at 3:20 p.m.), Littleton (Saturday at 11:50 a.m.), Northern Colorado (Saturday at 4:40 p.m.) and Boulder (Sunday at 8:50 p.m.). The Pee Wee finale is at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday. The Vail Pee Wee A’s are coming off a second-place finish at the Aspen Fall Faceoff last weekend.

The action off the ice will be equally important. Player-registration fees constitute just 40 percent of the VJHA’s operating budget, so the tournament serves as the organization’s primary fundraiser.

“It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year for us and it’s absolutely imperative that the tournament goes off without a hitch to ensure the future of the program,” Kersey said. “Tournaments like this have a huge impact on our ability to expand the program to where we want it to go.”

Be sure to turn out for the silent auction this weekend. According to tournament director Beth Chow, there are all sorts of signed memorabilia from the Montreal Canadiens and the Florida Panthers, accumulated from their training-camp stints in Vail last month. Avs tickets will be up for grabs as well as assorted gifts donated by local businesses.

Spectators also should look in their tournament programs for coupons for special offers from local establishments.

The Midget AA’s are sponsored by Resort Concepts, while the Beaver Creek Resort Company supports the Midget A’s. Alpine Bank underwrites the Pee Wee A’s.

Midget A’s win two

COLORADO SPRINGS – The Vail Midget A’s showed they can win with whatever method necessary last weekend.

Offense ruled the day in a 7-6 win over Southern Colorado and, in the rematch, Vail’s defense never rested in a 2-0 victory.

Vail had five different goal scorers – Michael Morgen, Brad Myers, Matt Heelan, Christopher Chase and Stevie Reid – in the 7-6 win. Myers sealed the win and his hat trick by lighting the lamp with 5:22 left in the game.

Vail’s blueliners and goalie Tyler Lantz stood tall in the nightcap.

“It was a good defensive effort,” Kersey said. “We talked about the problems we had the first game when we were puck-watching. We focused on that, became more aware and the guys started picking up their man. We kept their shots on the perimeter, which helped Ty. And when he faced a tough shot, he got the job done.”

Lantz finished with 16 saves, while Reid and Chase scored for Vail.

Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at

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