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Nashville Adult Classic Shows Hockey’s Popularity in the South

By Greg Bates, 11/18/18, 9:00AM MST

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Predators’ presence helps, but players come from all over the southern U.S. to compete

With the rise in popularity of the Nashville Predators, there is plenty of buzz about hockey in the Music City.

For the fifth straight year, USA Hockey held the Nashville Adult Classic at the Predators’ facility, the Ford Ice Center, in Antioch, Tennessee.

The Nashville Adult Classic had openings for 22 teams — filled on a first-come, first-served basis — in four divisions.

“The tournament sold out in 10 minutes,” said Paul DeSandro, coordinator of adult hockey at USA Hockey. “It’s one of our more popular events.”

The tournament is a big draw for hockey players who live in the southern states. According to DeSandro, there were 11 states represented just by the captains of the 22 teams.

“I think Nashville’s a growing hockey market,” DeSandro said. “It’s a really fun town, so people really enjoy it. We do get a draw from some of our non-traditional hockey markets.”

The guys that played for Cahaba Brewing Co. traveled north about 200 miles from Birmingham, Alabama, to compete.

“It’s just a lot of fun and it’s a great city,” Cahaba Brewing Co. captain Daniel Howard said. “The facility there, the Ford Ice Center, is really nice. Not only do the boys enjoy it, but the wives and girlfriends that come along enjoy going to Nashville, too, so it’s an easy trip for everybody to be able to do.”

It’s the third year in a row Cahaba Brewing Co. has skated in the event.

“It’s just tons of fun going up there, good competition,” Cahaba Brewing Co. team member Scott Thomasson said. “We go to a couple tournaments across the country every year and this is kind of becoming one of our favorite ones.”

A favorite certainly because of the geographic location and how smoothly USA Hockey runs the tournament.

SLC team captain Paul Gallegos seconds that sentiment.

“We had a great time,” said Gallegos, who lives in Salt Lake City and brought teammates from California and Montreal to the tournament. “Great town, great location. It was nice because for the most part all the games were on time. Good people. Overall, it was a good experience.”

The winners of the four divisions were: Novice 21+, Atlanta Whalers; Bronze 21+, Dumb Pucks; Bronze 30+, Cavemen; and Intermediate 21+, The U.

All the teams that competed in the event were guaranteed three games with the playoffs taking place on Sunday. Unfortunately for both Cahaba Brewing Co. and SLC, the teams placed last in their respective divisions.

The previous year, Cahaba Brewing Co. finished second in Bronze 21+, but didn’t win a game in the same division this year.

“We like to be competitive and we’re out there trying to win,” Howard said. “But, Nashville, we have such a good time going up there anyway it really doesn’t matter if we win or not.”

SLC, whose players’ average age is about 50, skated in the Bronze 30+ Division. Gallegos, a grandfather of three, and his guys were taking on teams who had players in their early to mid-30s.

“We had a great time and we didn’t win a game,” Gallegos said.

Not tallying a victory in the tournament won’t deter the guys from SLC from trying to get into next year’s tournament.

“We definitely have an interest,” Gallegos said. “And we are also going to bring a few of our sons. My boys are 33 and 37.”

DeSandro said USA Hockey is hoping to grow the tournament next year by adding more teams and securing more ice time. Howard would love to see the event get bigger and better.

The more teams, the fiercer the competition will get. For more players, though, it’s just all about getting in a good skate with the team.

“I think fun is the name of the game,” DeSandro said. “It’s one of the most fun tournaments. The feedback I get from people is it’s just a really good time.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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