Aspen eyes Spring Face-Off hockey tourney |

Aspen eyes Spring Face-Off hockey tourney

Aspen’s annual Fall Face-Off youth hockey tournament pumps about $1.6 million into the local economy, drawing visitors from all over Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Arizona and Utah.

Now organizers want to replicate that success in the spring offseason with a biannual installment of the tournament.

“I’m a hockey mom, and Aspen is definitely a place people like to come for hockey,” said Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, co-president of Aspen Junior Hockey.

She said the $1.6 million — which is made up mostly of lodging and restaurant sales — was estimated by the city’s special-events accounting team, headed by Tim Ware. About 1,300 youths compete in the fall installment of the tournament, but Zuckerman Jacobson said hockey families travel together. For her 13-year-old son, a goalie, Zuckerman Jacobson’s family has traveled to Pueblo, Steamboat Springs, Telluride and Summit County.

“Hockey has provided incredible opportunities for team-building and personal responsibility for my son and his teammates,” Zuckerman Jacobson said. “And I think it’s fantastic that Aspen can do the same.”

Zuckerman Jacobson and the rest of the Aspen Junior Hockey board of directors will meet today to start nailing down dates for the 2014 spring tournament. The fall version takes place over the course of three weekends, primarily in October, with games held at Lewis Ice Arena and Aspen Ice Garden. When parents register, they are given information on food and lodging offerings in the area. This fall, all 84 teams, made up of kids 8 through 18, stayed in Aspen, Zuckerman Jacobson said.

At Monday’s Aspen City Council meeting, Zuckerman Jacobson introduced Aspen Junior Hockey’s new director, Shaun Hathaway, who was hired in July. His resume includes a stint as hockey director for the Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association as well as terms coaching the Miami University of Ohio hockey team and the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League. He also coached the Pikes Peak Miners, a Midget AA team.

“Our plans right now are to continue taking steps in becoming a state, as well as a regional, leader in player development,” Hathaway told the council Monday. “This year was a tremendous step for us, and we’re looking to expand opportunities for Spring Face-Off this year.”

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