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.
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.
|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:
|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.
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.
|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:
|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.|