The Dakota Spirit Arena is once again hosting the North Dakota Amateur Hockey Associations State Junior Gold Tournament with the puck dropping on Thursday, February 28 to start the tournament. Seven teams will be battling it out on the ice for the bragging rights of champions on the ice.
By Melissa Anderson
The teams competing are the Richland Rangers, Watford City Oilers, Crosby Comets, Grand Forks Stallions, Fargo Freeze, Northwood Ice Storm, and the Langdon Blades. Tournament organizer Van Howatt is very excited to see the teams take to the ice.
“It’s good hockey. Hopefully its the best hockey of the year,” Howatt said.
The tournament begins at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 28 with the number four ranked hometown team, the Langdon Blades, taking on the number five seed Fargo Freeze. The winner of this game will take on the number one seed, Grand Forks Stallions, on Friday, March 1 at 12:30 p.m.
“I think our chance is good. The teams are all pretty equal this year so anybody can win it,” Langdon Blades Head Coach Nick Roy said.
The remaining two games for the evening of Thursday, February 28 has the number three seeded Richland Rangers facing off against the number six seeded Crosby Comets at 5 p.m. The final game for Thursday has the puck scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m. with the Watford City Oilers, who are ranked number two for the tournament, skating against the number seven team of the Northwood Ice Storm.
This will be the third time in ten years that the Langdon Blades and the Dakota Spirit Arena have hosted this tournament. Howatt explained that the selection process for the hosting rink goes east-west, east-west. Towns slated to host can pass if they want to for whatever reason giving the next town on the list the chance. Howatt and the volunteers who will be in full force for the tournament are very excited to be hosting once more and see many of their fellow hockey parents.
“Parents get to meet other parents. Once you get to high school level you do get to know the other parents because you have played them for so many years,” Howatt said.
Some years have allowed for a skills contest, but due to time constraints and not having all the teams present at once there will not be a contest held this year. However, Howatt does expect there to be good hockey, good food, and good silent auction items for those attending to enjoy and participate in. The Dakota Spirit Arena will have their full concessions stands open for attendees, and Howatt shared what will be up for grabs in the silent auction.
The silent auction will take place beginning on Thursday and will go until the end of play on Friday. Items for the auction are autographed professional hockey team merchandise including autographed jerseys from the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets. Also featured will be a authentic NDSU football jersey autographed by Travis Beck, a former Langdon Blades champion.
“The winners of the silent auction will be announced Friday evening at the banquet held in honor of the players,” Howatt said.
Be sure to head to the Dakota Spirit Arena for great hockey beginning Thursday with the championship game starting on Saturday, March 2 at 5 p.m.