DULUTH, MN (Northland's Newscenter)---More than 1,200 girls from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada are in Duluth this weekend to play in the 2011 St. Luke's Icebreaker Invitational Hockey Tournament.
In its sixteenth year, with 79 teams registered, it's one of the largest youth girl's hockey tournaments in the nation.
"This is the one that everyone looks forward to, all the Cottage Grove people are up here from 10's to 14's and we have the banquet room, and we just like stay up late and spend time with each other," said player, Annika Hein.
It's about hockey, it's about competition, but mostly it's about fun for one 12UA team from Cottage Grove.
"I really like just being with my friends—just hanging out and having fun," another player, Danielle Perry said.
This is the first year the girls have played all together on one team but that's not to say they lack charisma on—or off the ice.
Before each game, the girls can be found joking with each other in the locker room, singing and dancing to their favorite pre–game jams.
Once they hit the ice that energy stays with them.
"I really like being out on the ice and just making up different plays trying new lines and switching everything around," Perry said. "We actually just switched it up last week and we have new lines to work with so it's nice to get to work with new people."
The tournament is so big, it takes seven rinks throughout Duluth to host it.
This year, skaters were able to enter the tournament free of cost, organizers say that's thanks to the many volunteers who help make the weekend event possible.
"Money that we earn from bringing all these teams in, we actually get to give back to our families, that are why we have such a great family volunteer situation for this tournament," said Barbara Boo an Icebreaker Board Member.
One new addition to the Ice Breaker tournament this year, a trophy created by a local artist.
Individual players from the winning team will receive smaller versions of the trophy to take home, and winners of the championship games in all six levels will get their name engraved on a plaque on the permanent trophy.
"And that stays as part of the heritage center and part of our heritage, as part as our icebreaker tournament," Boo said.
The tournament will continue until Sunday night. Admission is free into each of the seven arena locations.
Written and posted to the web: Jennifer Walch