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Roller hockey brings out best in hospitality

It’s over.

Two hundred sixty-eight teams played 829 games over 12 days in the 10th annual State Wars Roller Hockey tournament, contested at the Parkview SportONE Icehouse, and after 41 final championship matchups, the tournament came to an end on Sunday.

“Everything went great from start to finish,” Icehouse general manager Eddie Hawkins said. “At first, I was worried things were going a little too well, I was knocking on wood. But Tim (McManus) and his staff were great to work with. You could tell they do this for a living.”

In addition to the tournament going well, the city of Fort Wayne proved to be a good host for a national tournament.

“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” tournament director McManus said. “The whole city embraced the tournament.”

The tournament-goers, too, helped with the local economy such that some businesses showed their appreciation.

“After the first day, Olive Garden called us up and brought us free food to say thanks for sending them so much business,” Icehouse employee Kyle Goehring said.

Some participants believed that in the tournament’s 10-year history, this year’s was the best they’ve been to.

“This was one of the best tournaments,” Elite AAA player Cody Cutler said. “The pro-division was one of the best and with the rink being so good, that’s great for everyone.”

Compliments about the rink were aplenty. “The feedback has been 100 percent positive,” Hawkins said. “It’s one of the few venues where all the rinks were in one place, plus there’s a full-service restaurant upstairs.”

Cutler’s pro team, the Missouri Alkali Young Guns, won the Elite AAA, or the pro division, winning 4-1 over California’s Pama Cyclones. The winning team received a $10,000 check. It is the only division that receives a monetary award for winning.

The team decides how to divvy up the money. The Missouri team decided to send it right back to the team.

“We pay for everything all year long,” coach Joe Cook said. “This is our ninth tournament of the year. We travel around, guys get flights paid for. The guys decided before the game that if we won, the money would help pay for that.”

With no admission fee, there was no sure way to keep track of the number of spectators who came throughout the tournament.

“Just eyeballing it, I think that it ended up being above the initial expectations (of 10,000 people),” Hawkins said. “Just the pure volume of people was crazy.”

Two of Indiana’s four teams left the tournament as champions. The Senior A Indiana Avalanche defeated Missouri Ringers 6-4, and 1996A beat Wisconsin 4-3 in overtime.

Next year’s tournament will be contested in St. Louis.