The eighth annual Juneau Jamboree Women’s Hockey Tournament begins Friday at Treadwell Ice Arena and the hard-hitting and fancy puck handling is free for fans to attend.
Top women players from Juneau, Anchorage, Alberta, California, Florida and Montana are converging on the capital city with games beginning at 3 p.m. Friday.
The concept of the tournament is based on a similar tournament several of Juneau’s women hockey players went to in Haines Junction nine years ago. At the time, the Juneau skaters were just learning the game and couldn’t field a competitive team for regular tournaments.
“We just never have changed the format of the tournament,” assistant tournament organizer, and player, Carrie Bohan said. “Even though we have improved in skill level. We mix the talent up, go play and have fun, and have a big party at the end.”
To balance the competition players register as individuals and state their preferred position and ability level. Teams are then composed of mixed ability levels with the intent to create overall parity among the teams so there are no major blowouts.
A team could have a brand new hockey goalie, a couple of defensive women who have played for 20 years and the rest somewhere between the two levels. Team selections try to be centered around the goalie position.
“If you have a brand new goalie we will give that team some defensemen who have been playing for 15 to 20 years,” Bohan said. “Then we do the same thing with the offensive line.”
All games are round robin so there is no winning team at the end of the weekend.
Games times are Friday at 3 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 9:30 p.m., Saturday at 8 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m. 1 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m., and Sunday at 8 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 11:45 a.m.
Bohan stated the positive aspect of the tournament is that players meet other women and establish relationships.
“The networking is important,” Bohan said. “First it was just meeting players from around the state and now it is around the country. When you are playing in a normal competitive tournament you don’t get to know the other players and develop a friendship with them. Here, you are playing on a team with them.”
This year every team will have at least three out-of-town players on the roster. While there is a vast difference in skill levels among the players, those on the upper end are very gracious to those less accomplished according to Bohan.
“They pass on insight and tips to the newer players,” Bohan said. “Consistently we have seen an improvement in skill level that carries over into our JAHA (Juneau Adult Hockey Association) games throughout the weeks after the tournament. A drastic improvement. For Juneau women the improved skill level is the biggest benefit over all.”