FORT WAYNE – Roller hockey? At the ice rink? You bet!
The 10th United States Roller Hockey National Tournament begins Wednesday at Parkview/SportONE Icehouse.
Some 268 teams, including four from Indiana, will descend on the Summit City to participate in the 12-day tournament.
Previous State Wars tournaments have been held in Cincinnati, St. Louis and Chicago.
It’s been a yearlong undertaking, tournament Director Tim McManus said.
Players are traveling from all over North America. There’s more than 2,500 players plus their friends and families, plus referees and scorekeepers. We expect over 10,000 people to be traveling to the event.
According to their website, the goal of State Wars Hockey is to provide a competitive, geographically structured national roller hockey event that gives selected participants a feeling of pride and honor to represent their home state or province.
We have teams coming from 24 states, and two Canadian provinces, Alberta and Ontario, are sending teams, as well. These are the best of the best, McManus said.
Each state and province holds tryouts each year between March and June based on the players’ year of birth.
Each team will be playing only about three days out of the entire tournament because there are 19 divisions and age groups spanning from 6-and-younger to 45-and-older.
In total, there are 829 games scheduled for the entire tournament.
SportONE Icehouse has been closed since Friday to begin preparing for the tournament.
We turned off the ice machines on Thursday night, Icehouse General Manager Eddie Hawkins said.
We allowed the ice to melt Friday and Saturday to begin laying down the roller floor on Sunday and Monday.
The facility has played host to regional roller hockey tournaments in the past, but that required only one of its ice rinks, in addition to the numerous ice events.
For us, it’s an opportunity to show off the facility and the city to a national audience, Hawkins said. It’s been hectic, but everyone’s excited.
On Wednesday, the games begin at 8:20 a.m. Games will run all day, with some beginning as late as 11 p.m.
Live statistics, scores and video streaming are available online for the duration of the tournament.