For three days next week, Licking County will get an economic boost from people from across the country.
Ten teams from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, California and Washington state and their fans will converge on Newark from April 3 through 5 for the Collegiate Ice Hockey Association Founders Cup National Championship. The event originally was scheduled for March 13 through 15, but heavy snow in the eastern U.S. forced the tournament to be pushed back.
Lou and Gib Reese Ice Arena will play host to nonvarsity teams from Wittenberg, Xavier, Pittsburgh-Greensburg, New York University at Buffalo, Medaille (N.Y.) College, Union (N.Y.) College, Hobart (N.Y.) College, Allegheny County (Pa.) Community College, Western Washington University and University of California-San Diego.
Teams will be split into pool play with the two pool winners meeting for the championship. Each team is guaranteed at least three games. Western Washington is defending champion. Teams qualified either by winning conference titles or receiving at-large bids.
“It will have a definite impact on the (local) economy,” said Gary Baldwin, general manager of the Reese Ice Arena. “They all have friends, family and friends who travel. Western Washington will fly in fans from across the country. Fans will have plenty of time between games, so they’ll be looking to visit unique places around here.”
He said a lot of fans have some connection with Ohio State University and are looking forward to coming to Central Ohio. “Either family or someone they went to school with,” he said.
Baldwin has 40 years of experience running various tournaments, including the Division I club hockey national championship in Wooster. He also operated venues in Maine and Cumberland, Md., and puts on the (Interstate) 70-71 tourney at the Reese Ice Arena, which is hosted by Denison.
CIHA Director Ed Draper said Newark’s proposal and the reputation of the Reese Ice Arena put the city over the top on hosting the event. Also competing were Fort Wayne, Ind.; South Bend, Ind.; Rockledge, Fla.; and Rochester, N.Y.
“Mr. Baldwin’s dedication and operation of previous college club team tournaments really sealed the deal,” Draper said. “The Newark community will be considered for future CIHA events.
“The economic impact can be touted very easily, but it’s also about growing the sport of ice hockey at the nonvarsity collegiate level,” he added. “Our goal is to hopefully provide a positive representation that will inspire young players to continue playing on into the college ranks. We are looking forward to meeting the community of Newark and establishing a long-lasting relationship.”
Baldwin said local fans used to seeing the Newark Generals can appreciate the high level of play that will be showcased.
“If we can just get people in to see this kind of hockey, I think they’ll be impressed,” he said. “We’ll try to do a bang-up job this year, so that they’ll come back next year.”