It’s maybe the most helpful local tradition this winter.
The annual Larry Manz Holiday Tournament at McMorran Arena on Friday and Saturday is crucial to all four teams involved. When Anchor Bay, Port Huron, Port Huron Northern and Marysville take the ice, they’ll not just be looking for a pair of wins — they’ll also be looking to see where they sit early on this season.
“You get to see all four local teams to get an idea of where you’re at and what you need to work on,” Marysville head coach Paul Moretz said.
Marysville and Anchor Bay will kick off the tournament at 1 p.m. Friday with Port Huron and Port Huron Northern facing off immediately after. Saturday’s championship game will be at 3 p.m. with the third place game starting at 1 p.m.
Northern has been the ice kings of this tournament, winning the last six titles with last year’s coming in overtime fashion. Last year’s Huskies team was young, boasting plenty of freshman and sophomores. While those players will be a bit more experienced, the Huskies still have a bounty of youth with just four seniors on the roster.
This season, now that the Huskies have put a few growing pains behind them, Northern head coach Daryel McCarrel is looking forward to seeing his team take the next step this tourney.
“Last year was everybody trying to find their way and it was hard because there was so many new kids on the team you had to prioritize what mistake you wanted to fix,” McCarrel said. “This year we are limiting those mistakes this year early.”
Port Huron is working with low depth for another season, heading into the tournament with 11 skaters. Big Reds head coach Ben Pionk knows his team still has some learning to do, and he’s thankful for the barometer this tournament will be for his team.
“I just want to see these kids compete and really see where we stand,” Pionk said. “We’re coming in really with no expectations.”
Marysville has a program-low 16 kids on their team with 14 skaters and two goalies, but that doesn’t mean the Vikings aren’t looking to compete this weekend the rest of the year. While the depth may be low, the experience on the team is high.
“(Our strength) should be our defensemen,” Moretz said. “We have guys that have been with us for a while who we’ve had since they were freshman, and they’ve gone through their growing pains. They’re to the point now where they should start controlling hockey games.”