With many of the VJW teams cruising through the early part of their league seasons, the coaches and players will welcome a true test this month at the 2008 Nike Bauer International Invitational. Beginning on October 30, the U-16, ’95 Elite, ’96 Elite, ’97 Elite, ’98 Elite and ’99 Elite teams will take part in the four-day event in Chicago.
Each team will compete in three round-robin games with hopes of advancing to the playoffs. The Nike Bauer International Invitational is truly one of the premier youth hockey tournaments as it will draw 352 teams that will compete in 781 games at 19 hockey areas located across the Chicago area. In addition to the Warriors and a host of other national powerhouses, the event features teams from Canada, Russia and Slovenia.
“There is no question that this tournament is one of the premier youth hockey events in the world,” said Fred Devereaux, VJW director of player development. “Our teams will face tough challenges that will only make them stronger and more prepared for the second half of the league season.”
Last year, the VJW sent six teams that performed admirably in the face of tough competition. This time around, expectations for the participating VJW squads are even greater.
“As a coaching staff, we are looking forward to seeing how our players fare against the best of the best,” noted Devereaux. “We have seen great progress even through the first two months of play, so this experience will only help them grow stronger and more seasoned.”
Several of the VJW teams are enjoying a fast start to the season. The ’95 Elite and ’99 Elite currently sit in first place in their NEHL divisions, while the U-16 and ’96 Elite teams lead the way in Mass Select League play.
In addition to exciting hockey, the players, coaches and family members will enjoy a memorable experience. As part of the opening festivities, for example, Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and 2008 Calder Trophy winner will drop the event’s first puck on October 30 at the Three Bridges Arena in Woodridge, Illinois.
Additional opening night activities include a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues alumni and special appearances from hockey legends Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull. Representatives from USA Hockey, the NHLPA, the AHL and the Russian Ice Hockey Federation will also be on hand to make this year’s tournament a truly global event.
You can follow all of the action at the 2008 Nike Bauer International Invitational by visiting the event’s official web site at www.nikebauerinvite.com.