Stephanie Weir vividly remembers playing in her first USA Hockey Adult Classic Tournament.
She traveled to Indianapolis from her home just outside of Columbus, Ohio. That event in 2010 blew her away. Since that point, Weir has competed in numerous Adult Classics in Indianapolis as well as Columbus and Nashville.
“They’re just well put together,” Weir said. “Everything’s so organized.”
Putting on the recreational, non-check Adult Classics is an annual tradition at USA Hockey, and those in charge at the host cities enjoy it just as much — if not more.
“Selfishly working with USA Hockey is so great and easy,” said Danny Butler, the vice president and general manager at the Ford Ice Center in Nashville. “They are such a great organization. Good staff always comes. We have a great relationship with USA Hockey already. It’s always just a well-run event. We try to be aggressive and make things better and USA Hockey as partners are always willing to help and jump on board.”
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of USA Hockey’s main locations in Nashville won’t be hosting its event this season.
“I think Nashville was our favorite because we got to play on the Predator ice,” Weir said. “Playing on an NHL rink was pretty cool.”
However, USA Hockey has five Adult Classics, presented by Labatt Blue, scheduled. The season starts off with the Columbus Adult Classic from March 18-20. The next week is the Las Vegas Adult Classic March 25-27. The Seattle Adult Classic will run April 29-May 1. The Denver Front Range Face-off – Women’s Tournament will be May 6-8, followed by the Lake Placid Adult Classic May 13-15. For more information and registrations details, click HERE.
Butler always receives positive feedback from those who have participated in the Nashville Adult Classic.
“I think they just enjoy it,” Butler said. “It’s just a good time, it’s well run, it’s organized. You don’t get that from every tournament, especially adult tournaments that are out there. You can bring your own team, you play, you have a good time and you know exactly what you’re getting. That’s what we’ve always heard.”
The Chiller Ice Rinks around Columbus have been hosting Adult Classics for just over 20 years. OhioHealth Chiller Ice Rinks Assistant General Manager Jeremy Rogers has been in his position during that entire run.
“From a rink perspective, it’s great for us in the spring as things slow down,” Rogers said. “It’s just so much fun because we have a huge adult league, but the local teams love seeing new teams come in that they’re not used to playing. We love seeing teams from all over the Midwest and all over the place that come in and stay the weekend and everybody’s just having a great time. They’re just a lot of fun to host.”
Paul Scovic competed for a decade at the Indianapolis Adult Classic. He’s played in the last 10 Columbus events. It’s the overall environment and fun time that keeps Scovic keep coming back each year.
“It’s a pretty good tournament,” Scovic said. “The Indy one, you get a case of Labatt after every game, so that’s always fun. It’s kind of a home away from home, because it’s only like three hours to drive over there. We take a pretty good group. It’s been a lot of the same guys that have been going for the last 10 years.”
Scovic loves the camaraderie of getting away from his daily life and competing with friends.
“You get a group of people that you maybe don’t always play with that you can kind of put together a team,” Scovic said. “Traveling is awesome and just playing with guys you might not play with normally or play against normally.
“If you’ve been playing in leagues for a long period of time, it’s nice to kind of branch out and do something different.”
The name of the game for the Adult Classics events is fun at the rink and just as much away from the rink.
“To me, that’s 80% of it,” Rogers said. “I talk to players all the time from out of town during this thing and they’re like, ‘This is about getting away for the weekend with your friends.’ You’re hanging out at the hotel, you’re hitting the bar, you’re doing somewhere new, you meet some new hockey players. We all have that in common. It’s really about the camaraderie and just the whole experience and hockey’s just the excuse to make it all happen.”
Rogers figures that about 30-40% of the teams that sign up every year for the Columbus Adult Classic are local teams. That gives it a good mix of out-of-towners coming in to compete.
“The fact that so many of our teams here locally have been doing it for so many years is proof that they just love it,” Rogers said. “The feedback’s great. For them it’s like, hey, we play on Tuesday nights and we see the same seven or eight teams year-round, so this is really cool. We get to see how we measure up with Chicago, with Cleveland, with Pittsburgh, with wherever they’re coming from. That’s a real thrill to see new teams and see where you measure up.”
Nashville has an advantage when it comes to its Adult Classics event. It’s a prime destination city where hockey players can come and have fun on the ice and have plenty to do away from the rink. That helps the draw immensely.
“It really does,” Butler said. “From youth tournaments to adult tournaments, people want to be in Nashville right now. It just makes for a fun time.
“It’s not super difficult to get to, we’re almost central America. It’s a three-hour flight from as far away as you can be to Nashville, so it’s not like you’re traveling all day or things like that. It’s a good destination.”
According to organizers, the Adult Classics tournaments typically feature 24-30 teams with a number of divisions based on age and talent level for both men and women.
That’s one of the big reasons why Scovic enjoys signing up for those events.
“The competition is always pretty decent,” Scovic said. “I think they kind of mix it up.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.