Ice Kats host 90 teams for annual tournament in city
Competition from other tournaments is forcing the Peterborough Girls’ Hockey Association to reevaluate a 38-year tradition.
The annual Ice Kats tournament has been held on the first weekend in December for all of its 38 years. This year’s edition featured 90 teams in 20 divisions using all four city arenas and six ice pads.
But only eight of the Ice Kats’ 18 rep teams and none of their AA squads, the highest level in girls’ hockey, participated. Ever since the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association granted Whitby a tournament on the same weekend it’s been a struggle to attract AA teams and in more recent years all rep divisions. The PGHA has compensated by adding house league divisions, said PGHA president Carole Wagner.
“Our tournament is turning into a B and C tournament and we have huge house league numbers,” said Wagner. “The goal of all this when we started it 38 years ago was to hold a weekend where all of our teams, regardless of what level they were, got to play in a home tournament. That’s not happening anymore.”
The tournament has averaged 90 to 95 teams in recent years but was once as high as 125, she said. The Whitby tournament has grown steadily siphoning teams from Peterborough.
“They have so many hotels and arenas all within a short distance of each other. Why would you come to Peterborough when you can play in Whitby,” said Wagner.
It’s one of the reasons the PGHA and other local arena users lobbied the city to build the proposed new twin-pad closer to the other arenas and not at Trent University. A plea that fell on deaf ears, she said.
“We keep going to these meetings (with the city) and we keep talking about what everybody is suggesting and I don’t know why we are going because they don’t listen to any of it,” said Wagner.
It’s particularly hard to attract bantam and midget teams, said Wagner.
“The bantam and midget AA teams are looking for showcase tournaments because NCAA and Canadian university coaches are at these things,” said Wagner.
The PGHA executive is exploring options of either moving the tournament to another date or creating a separate tournament for bantam and midget. A lack of ice-time in the area may make it impossible, she said.
“We talk about maybe doing a bantam and midget showcase early in the fall and doing something else later in the year but we’d have to flip ice with somebody because there is no extra ice for that to happen,” said Wagner.
This is the first year that the PGHA has had more of its house league teams (11) in the tournament than rep teams (8). Since house league games are shorter they’ve not required as much ice-time and for the first time in a long time organizers have not had to book time at arenas in the county.