Close to 200 hockey players from the Western Slope enjoyed uncommonly warm temperatures this past weekend, as they participated in the Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey Association's annual Grizzly Hockey Mite Jamboree.
The Grizzly Hockey Mite Team hosted mite hockey players (ages 8 and under) from Aspen, Craig, Eagle, Grand Junction, Summit County and Vail. Because of the tremendous participation and success in previous years, this year's Jamboree was expanded to two days.
Event organizer Lydia Senn praised the volunteers and sponsors of the event.
"Feeding all these players and their parents can be a great undertaking, but our parents stepped up and overwhelmed us with support. I was also impressed by the support we received from our community for this annual event."
Longtime event sponsor Moe's Southwest Grill was joined by new sponsors Valley View Hospital, Colorado Mountain College, Russo's Pizza and Personal Rehabilitation Center.
This year's event was again preceded by an American Developmental Model (ADM) hockey clinic hosted by USA Hockey, the Continental Divide Youth Hockey League and the GSYHA. This is the second consecutive year the GSYHA has been selected to host the clinic. This year, it was conducted by Michelle Amidon, the former USA Hockey women's national team director and current ADM regional manager.
"We are thrilled that USA Hockey continues to commit its time and resources to the Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey Association," shared GSYHA Hockey Director TK Kwiatkowski. "Having Michelle invest her time with our coaches and players will continue to benefit our growing program."
The ADM promotes development in youth sports through its "Love, Play, Excel" philosophy. Launched in January 2009, the ADM is an age-appropriate training model based on long-term athlete development principles for youth hockey players.
The Mite Jamboree supports the principles of the ADM thorough cross-ice hockey games.
"Playing cross-ice hockey allows much more contact with the puck and it spares the players the effort of skating the full length of ice before they are ready" said Grizzly Hockey mite head coach Nick Senn.
Score is not kept in this age group and passing is rewarded and skating "end to end" is discouraged. The teams switched about every 24 minutes, with all teams getting the opportunity to play six games.
Next weekend, the Grizzly Hockey mite team will participate in the Eagle Mountain Mite Jamboree. The Grizzly mites are also hoping the NHL season begins on Dec. 15, because that is the date for the annual Colorado Avalanche intermission skate.
The mites then look forward to 2013, in which they will play in some local scrimmages followed by jamborees in Aspen, Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs.
The GSYHA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and serves players 18 and under in Glenwood Springs and the surrounding areas. More information is available at www.grizzlyhockey.org.