FORT WAYNE – The 10th annual State Wars Roller Hockey Tournament brought teams from 24 states and two Canadian provinces to Fort Wayne for the next 11 days.
For some of these teams, State Wars is about more than just the hockey.
It’s just fun, said Amy Francis of Amarillo, Texas. The boys make friendships that last.
Francis’ son, Burke, played in last year’s national tournament in Chicago for Texas.
Tournaments such as State Wars are the only time these players have the opportunity to play together.
Some of the players, such as Ryan Robinson of Plano, Texas, have become like second sons to Francis.
I like the competition, said Robinson, 12. I like meeting new people and playing for my state.
Some states, like Texas, have enough players to have several teams in the tournament. This increases the chance of finding a collectible pin from that state.
Each player is given a small bag of pins from the state they’re representing. Throughout the tournament, the players trade to collect as many different state pins as possible.
When you trade with other teams, you know you’ve played against them, said Dominico Munaco, 13, of Rochester, Michigan.
Each team plays four-round robin games, then are seeded into the single-elimination playoff rounds.
Teams from birth years 2002, 2001 and 1998 played their first games on Wednesday.
It’s been a great start to the tournament, tournament director Tim McManus said. There’s a block schedule with new games starting 10 minutes apart on each rink and new age groups coming in every day.
The success of the tournament is a victory for Visit Fort Wayne, which worked hard to bring the tournament to town.
It was a team effort between SportONE Icehouse, the city of Fort Wayne and Visit Fort Wayne, said John Felts of Visit Fort Wayne. The Midwest location of the city made it geographically centered for many of the teams.
There also aren’t many facilities that have three sheets of NHL-sized ice in the Midwest.
Indiana has four teams in the tournament. The Indiana team in Division 1997A begins at 6:45 p.m. today against Colorado.