The Slapshot Cup Tournament celebrates its 10th year with three days of hockey involving 30 teams at two sites this weekend.
“From Day 1 when we decided to do the tournament we wanted to make it a yearly thing, an event that everyone puts on their calendar,” said Josh Piro, Slapshot Cup tournament director. “You’re guaranteed to see your friends and the hockey guys at least that one time of the year. We wanted to start a tradition.
“We wanted to make sure we put on a good event, one that is run well,” added Piro, the former four-time state champion hockey player at Bishop McCort High School who went on to play for the ECHL Johnstown Chiefs. “We wanted to make sure it was easy for everyone to want to come back. It’s our 10th year, so that’s evidence that we were able to accomplish our goal.”
Approximately 500 players in divisions ranging from age 21-and-over to 60-and-over are expected to converge on 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial and the North Central Recreation Center.
“We have new teams from Athens, Ohio; Boston; and Nanty Glo/Northern Cambria County,” said Dave Piro, Josh’s father and assistant tournament director.
“We created a 60-and-over division that includes four teams, including a new one from Flemington, New Jersey. We have a new team of mostly Russian players who are from Toronto, Canada.”
Dave Piro said Johnstown Tomahawks minority owner Craig Saylor will be honored during the tournament, which begins on Friday and concludes on Sunday.
“He’s a community-oriented guy. We’re proud to honor him,” Dave Piro said.
Games begin at 4:10 p.m. on Friday at both the War Memorial and North Central Recreation Center. Friday’s last scheduled game begins at 11:10 p.m.
The action picks up at 8 a.m. on Saturday, with games running through a 4:10 p.m. championship game on Sunday.
“Our goal is for them to leave Sunday saying, ‘Hey, we had a great time. We’re going to go home and tell our friends about it,’” said Dave Piro. “The response has been very consistent. People say, ‘Hey, we had a blast.
“It’s a great tournament. We’ll be back next year and we’re going to tell our friends about it.’”
The Slapshot Cup Tournament initially was intended to help fill a void by the loss of the Johnstown Chiefs after the ECHL team moved to Greenville, S.C., following the 2009-10 season.
The event has continued to grow, adding teams and age divisions. Throughout the years, international and women’s players have participated along side local players and area natives who returned to their hometown arena.
The tournament makes an impact on the region’s economy, as hotel rooms, restaurants and bars benefit from the influx of visiting players.
The Slapshot Cup even branched out to Canada, with a tournament held in Toronto, where Josh Piro works as a consultant/director of scouting and development for Rush Hockey and Cooney Management.
“With me living up here for almost five years now and building relationships we thought, ‘Why not do one in the summertime?’ We did one in June with 18 teams,” Josh Piro said. “It will help build the Johnstown event even more and we’ll continue to build the Toronto event.”