The time has come that all Alpena hockey fans look forward to: the Boosters Tournament. This annual tournament brings four high-quality teams together in a two-day tournament that sees one team walk away as the champs.
The Boosters Club has been in charge of this tournament for over two decades, according to Boosters representative Randy Hamp.
"It started out as something the FOP did. They decided they didn't want to do it any more so they tried to get us (the Boosters) to do it. That had to be around 1979, when Tony Byers was the hockey coach. We didn't start holding it until a few years later," he said.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Pictured senior participants in the Boosters Tournament are: kneeling, Brett LeTourneau; middle row (left to right): Emily Duncan, Kameron Russell, Alpena Booster Club representative Randy Hamp, Zach Nash, Brian Girard, team captain: back row (left to right): Ugis Skuja, Sam Rumbles, Jared Kwiatkowski. Missing seniors: Brad Lorenz and Bret Hauf, manager.
The Boosters Tournament is completely sponsored by the Boosters and is one of many ways the club tries to raise funds for local area sports.
"It's a fundraiser but it's mostly just a way to have fun. As long as we don't lose money, we're happy holding this tournament. It's always an exciting thing, especially now with my son playing," Hamp said.
The four teams competing in this year's tournament including Alpena, Anchor Bay, C.A.A.S, a Canadian school, and Hudsonville.
Alpena head coach Pete Doubek is expecting tight competition.
"Hudsonville's got a better record than us but are ranked a little lower. Same with Anchor Bay. The Canadian team should be really good too. We're really excited about the chance to play these teams and to prove ourselves," he said.
The Boosters Tournament traditionally has drawn big crowds to the Northern Lights Arena. The 2012-13 AHS hockey team has had a competitive season but it has had its ups and downs.
These ups and downs include injuries to key players who have had to sit out a few games or even the entire season. It also includes the absence of Jared Kwiatkowski who has to sit out during the tournament.
"I think they'll hold their own out there, even without Jared. Not to say that he isn't an important player but these kids are a great team and I honestly think they can win it," Hamp said.
According to Hamp, Alpena has won the tournament three times.
This year is an especially big year for the tournament as the Booster Club is making its own trophies for the tournament.
"We got our logo on the trophies and everything. The trophy will go to the winner each year and hopefully we can keep those trophies active for years to come," Hamp said.
Doubek is expecting a huge turnout for the tournament.
"I think we'll have a huge Friday night, especially with the band coming out. They create so much excitement in the crowd and really get them worked up. They were great in the Pink Game and I hope to see them come back to play at many more games," he said.
Alpena plays the first game of the tournament tonight at 6 p.m. at the Northern Lights Arena. The consolation game will be 1 p.m., with the championship game at 3 p.m.