College Hockey In-Season Tournaments

Background
Current Tournaments
Defunct Tournaments

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Background

College hockey in-season tournaments have existed for decades. Rare in the early years, they began to appear in earnest in the 1960s. Unlike college football bowl games, there is no required NCAA approval for an in-season tournament. They appear and disappear based on the desires and economics of those running the tournament.

Most tournaments are four team affairs, with semifinals matchups on day one and the championship and consolation games on day two. Occasionally the matchups for both days are predetermined, with no official championship game, requiring a more complicated method to determine the champion in the event multiple teams end up with identical records. Tournaments with more than four teams do occur, but are rare, due to the greater logistical and financial requirements involved.

Typical tournaments are invitational (to varying degrees), but the most prominent in-season college hockey tournament is the Beanpot, featuring Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern every iteration. It is essentially the annual championship of the major Boston-area hockey schools. The Great Lakes Invitational evolved into a tournament with three permanent participants (Michigan, Michigan State and Michigan Tech), leaving only one team to invite. Some tournaments, like the Ice Breaker, are true invitationals with usually no recurring teams. Most tournaments are hosted by one school, which invites three other schools for the tournament.

Financial considerations typically prompt the creation of in-season tournaments and more frequently are the cause of their cancellation. Most tournaments do not get five-figure attendance numbers like the Beanpot and Great Lakes Invitational. As it is cheaper to bring in one team than three teams, poor dollar numbers usually lead to the end of a tournament Andy Baggot at Madison.com has an article covering the final Badger Showdown in 2010, which is a good example of what happens at the end of a tournament’s run. This site is an attempt to document all the in-season college hockey tournaments and is a work in progress. There have been more tournaments than people realize, most of which were short-lived. Not every tournament is a Beanpot.

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Current Tournaments

The following tournaments were played within the last few seasons. Since tournaments exist at the whim of the schools involved, sometimes they disappear for a year or two then reemerge. No tournaments occurred during the 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

TOURNAMENT HOST SCHOOL LOCATION NOTES
Beanpot none Boston, Massachusetts Oldest extant in-season tournament.

Boston College, Boston University, Harvard and Northeastern have appeared in every tournament.

Catamount Cup Vermont Burlington, Vermont Tournament has gone through numerous name and sponsorship changes:
  • Sheraton/USAir Hockey Classic (#1-4)
  • Sheraton/Howard Bank Hockey Classic (#5-7)
  • Sheraton/Banknorth Hockey Classic (#8)
  • Sheraton/TD Banknorth Catamount Cup (#9-12)
  • Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup (since #13)
Connecticut Ice none Bridgeport, Connecticut Hosted by SNY, the New York Mets' cable channel.
Desert Hockey Classic Arizona State Glendale, Arizona & Prescott Valley, Arizona Not played during 2019-20.
Fortress Invitational none Paradise, Nevada Paradise is adjacent to Las Vegas.

Originally known as the Ice Vegas Invitational.

Friendship Four none Belfast, Northern Ireland All participants have come from ECAC Hockey and Hockey East.
Great Lakes Invitational Michigan Tech; Michigan has co-hosted since the twelfth tournament. Detroit, Michigan Second oldest extant in-season tournament.

Only two tournaments have not featured either Michigan or Michigan State.

Ice Breaker Invitational Host and location vary each season. Minnesota is the only school to participate in (and win) consecutive tournaments.
Ledyard Bank Classic Dartmouth Hanover, New Hampshire Known as the Auld Lange Syne Classic for the first sixteen tournaments.

Third oldest extant in-season tournament.

Mariucci Classic Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota Known as the Dodge Hockey Classic when under sponsorship.

Was on hiatus for two years, then returned in 2019-20 featuring only Minnesota schools.

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Defunct Tournaments

There are more defunct tournaments than listed here. Finding results from years past can be a difficult process. Entries are added as information is verified.

TOURNAMENT HOST SCHOOL LOCATION NOTES
Badger Showdown Wisconsin Originally Milwaukee, Wisconsin; later Madison, Wisconsin. Tournament moved on-campus after losing corporate sponsorship.
Big Ten Tournament Rotated among Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Black Bear Classic Maine Orono, Maine Preceded by the Dexter Shoe Classic and the J.C. Penney Classic as a Maine-hosted invitational tournament.
Blue-Green Invitational Dartmouth & New Hampshire Durham, New Hampshire & Hanover, New Hampshire
Boston Christmas Holiday Festival none Boston, Massachusetts
Brice Alaska Goal Rush Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska
Capital City Classic Princeton Trenton, New Jersey Follow-up to the Liberty Hockey Invitational.
Cleveland College Hockey Classic none Richfield, Ohio
Cornell Invitational Cornell Ithaca, New York
Denver Cup Denver; co-hosted by Air Force for the first five tournaments. Denver, Colorado
Dexter Shoe Classic Maine Orono, Maine Followed by the J.C. Penney Classic and the Black Bear Classic as a Maine-hosted invitational tournament.
Dunkin' Donuts Coffee Pot Providence Providence, Rhode Island Preceded by the USAir Hockey Classic and followed by the Providence Holiday Tournament as a Providence-hosted invitational tournament.
ECAC Christmas Hockey Tournament none Boston, Massachusetts Hosted by the ECAC.
ECAC Holiday Hockey Festival none New York, New York Hosted by the ECAC.
Empire Cup none Glens Falls, New York St. Lawrence appeared in every tournament.
Florida College Classic Cornell; co-hosted by Maine for the first fourteen tournaments. Estero, Florida Originally the Everblades College Classic.
Governor's Cup (NE) Rotated among Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. The four host schools appeared in every tournament.
Governor's Cup (NY) none Albany, New York Colgate, RPI and Union appeared in every tournament.
Great Alaska Face-Off Alaska-Fairbanks Fairbanks, Alaska
Great Western Freeze-Out none Inglewood, California & Anaheim, California Anaheim was the location for the final day of the last tournament.
J.C. Penney Classic Maine Orono, Maine Preceded by the Dexter Shoe Classic and followed by the Black Bear Classic as a Maine-hosted invitational tournament.
Lefty McFadden Invitational Miami Fairborn, Ohio
Liberty Hockey Invitational Princeton Newark, New Jersey Followed by the Capital City Classic.
Lightning College Hockey Classic none Tampa, Florida Hosted by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Long Island Classic none Uniondale, New York
Mutual of Omaha Stampede Nebraska-Omaha Omaha, Nebraska Known as the Maverick Stampede without sponsorship.
North Star College Cup Minnesota St. Paul, Minnesota This was a tournament for only Minnesota schools.
Ohio Hockey Classic Ohio State Columbus, Ohio
Pepsi Cola Tournament Ferris State & Western Michigan Grand Rapids, Michigan
Providence Holiday Tournament Providence Providence, Rhode Island Preceded by the USAir Hockey Classic and the Dunkin' Donuts Coffee Pot as a Providence-hosted invitational tournament.
Quinnipiac Cup Quinnipiac Originally New Haven, Connecticut; later North Branford, Connecticut.
RPI Invitational Tournament RPI Troy, New York Longest tournament to utilize only one facility.

This tournament was known by numerous names without sponsorship:

  • RPI Invitational Tournament
  • Rensselaer Invitational Tournament
  • RPI Invitational Christmas Tournament
  • RPI Christmas Tournament
  • Rensselaer Holiday Tournament (the final name)
With sponsorship the tournament was known as:
  • Rensselaer/Marine Midland Bank Holiday Tournament (#45-48)
  • Rensselaer/HSBC Holiday Tournament (#49-53)
  • Rensselaer/Bank of America Holiday Tournament (#54-56)
Shillelagh Tournament Notre Dame Originally Hoffman Estates, Illinois; later Notre Dame, Indiana
Subway Holiday Classic North Dakota Grand Forks, North Dakota Continued as a two-team weekend series after the third tournament.
Syracuse Invitational none Syracuse, New York Colgate, the closest Division 1 program to Syracuse, appeared in all but one tournament.
Three Rivers Classic Robert Morris Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania First four tournaments featured Penn State.
UMass Holiday International Classic Massachusetts Amherst, Massachusetts
Union Holiday Festival Tournament Union Schenectady, New York
USAir Hockey Classic Providence Providence, Rhode Island Followed by the Dunkin' Donuts Coffee Pot and the Providence Holiday Tournament as a Providence-hosted invitational tournament.