By Robert Apter, NIHL President
The first annual NIHL Blackhawks tournament is nearly here! This tournament features unbelievably talented young players at the top of their game. You are in for a treat if you catch a game. The tournament will be like no other and will become the birthplace of hockey memories.
As you are taking in the competition, please take a moment to appreciate our sponsors, the Chicago Blackhawks. I also want to thank our hardworking officials from the Illinois Hockey Officials Association (IHOA). They have a difficult job, one that is critical to a fair tournament. Please show respect and appreciation for the work they do. Every referee wants to see games fairly played and decided by the players. We strictly enforce zero tolerance rules and no abusive conduct toward the on-ice officials, tournament volunteers, or other spectators will be permitted.
The tournament is the product of countless hours of work by volunteers on the NIHL Tournament Committee and our member clubs. Thank you to all the members of the Tournament Committee and to all the wonderful volunteers at our host sites. Please thank anyone you see in our official tournament jacket for all their hard work.
NIHL is in its 49th year as the home of youth hockey in Illinois. You will find players who grew up on NIHL teams now playing in Juniors, college, the AHL and yes, even the National Hockey League. Thank you for being part of this rich history. Congratulations to the teams advancing to the NIHL Blackhawks Tournament. Enjoy these special moments competing for glory and a Championship banner. Good luck to all the teams!