Twenty-four (24) Mite teams took to United Center ice for 39 games on Sunday, December 28 for the Mid-Season Classic Mite Cross-Ice Tournament. Nearly 330 mites battled it out on 3 cross-ice rinks spanning the Blackhawks home ice with three teams taking home the Championship in their respective divisions. The Kane Division saw the Joliet Jaguars defeat the Leafs, the Toews Division had the all ADM AHAI Mission squad defeat the Chicago Jets, and in the Keith Division the River Dogs outlasted Canlan Ice Arena’s In-House Mites.
The day began with an opportunity to watch the Blackhawks practice; a few lucky skaters walked away with a stick or two from the Blackhawks players as they exited the ice from their morning skate. As the rink transformed from one large sheet to 3 smaller cross-ice sheets, the teams made their way to the locker rooms right down the hall from the Blackhawks. As one parent put it, “You created memories that will last a lifetime!”
While games were played the Blackhawks’ Street team was set up in the concourse, along with a photo booth for some fun pictures and concessions to enjoy before and during the games. Outside Gate 6 were two game trucks for the kids to enjoy videogames while they waited for their turn on the ice. Each team was treated to a Blackhawks locker room tour during the day. Tommy Hawk roamed the concourse and The Ice Crew stopped by to take pictures with the skaters and their parents and siblings as well.
Each player received a water bottle from USA Hockey with the Mid-Season Classic logo on it, a certificate with Chicago Blackhawk, Patrick Kane’s picture, as well as a T-shirt from AHAI. The winners received Blackhawks Winter Classic knit hats as well as medals for first and second place. As we know, it’s not about who does or does not win, it’s about development and more importantly, FUN. Louie, a young skater from the Sabres, said, “I really hope when we are squirts next year we can do this again”. Louie’s team didn’t make it to the Championship, but as his mom told AHAI, “He made me stay until the end of the championship game despite the fact his team wasn’t in it!”
The games were competitive, with 20 of the 36 games decided by 3 goals or less. More importantly, the smiles on the kids’ faces and the crowd of almost 3,000 people said it all. A big thanks to those that participated, as well as those that helped out before and during the event, to make this a special day for the kids.
The Mid-Season Classic was summed up nicely by a parent from the Chicago River Dogs, “Thank you for making this a great day for hockey!”