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Love our goalies.. and their hats!

Bantams 2023 New Year Adventure!

For the 2022/2023 season, the Ames Bantam Black team looked for a new "destination tournament" similar to the Squirt International tournament for the Squirt team.  Prior to COVID, the Bantams attended a South Bend, IN tournament and had an amazing time visiting the Notre Dame campus, and even playing at Notre Dame's NCAA DI arena.  When we inquired this year, the South Bend/Notre Dame tournament was returning to pre-COVID protocols - we immediately joined!

The week of the tournament, the team was notified that we would be placed in the AA division, instead of the A division we had registered for.  Never to give up an opportunity for a challenge, we pushed forward!  We ran into some stout competition, but we can now say we've played against Barrie, Ontario & the Carolina Hurricanes' Junior Canes teams!  While we took some lumps on the scoreboard, the experience was irreplaceable and we can confidently say we never gave up & we improved our game over the weekend - not to mention getting to watch a Mens Notre Dame hockey game, tour campus, etc!

After the tournament, the tournament host (Hockey Time Productions) contacted us about a free additional tournament due to the incorrect placement level in South Bend.  There's been discussion for a few years amongst some coaches and I about a true team-style trip - hotels/buses/parents staying separate/etc.  We found the Buffalo Outdoor Classic, cancelled a different tournament, and started the wheels in motion to make this idea come to life.  Without a whole team of folks, this doesn't happen for our athletes, but our Buffalo trip can be described best as: PERFECT!

  • Two 15-passenger vans driven by two coaches (a few athletes chose to fly)
  • A truck/enclosed trailer following the caravan with gear, luggage, food, grill, etc
  • 4 games across 3 days in a very cool outdoor facility in the heart of downtown Buffalo + 2 additional days of travel
  • Missed school, but travel required study time & no electronics time blocks, and we may have thrown in a few Carpool Karaoke jam sessions!
  • TimBits from Tim Hortons (Canadians do have donuts perfected!)
  • A Kindness & Gratitude pay-it-forward expectation for each athlete/coach (thanks to Coach Adam for this amazing idea!)
  • Two trips to Niagara Falls - one at night, one during the day
  • Two trips to KeyBank Center arena where the Buffalo Sabres play - one to watch the Sabres' morning skate ahead of their game that night, and another trip to watch the NHL game
  • All expenses for the coaches/managers/players were shared and paid for by each individual athlete, as well as team-wide donations from a few generous families
  • An awesome group of parents that chose to also travel to Buffalo to cheer us on, and an even awesome'r group of parents back home to keep the house in order, siblings entertained & at their games, and even vet appointments covered (Coach Paulsen's St. Bernard, Georgia Pickles, is doing well now)
  • A 3-1-0 weekend record & a hard fought tournament Championship!
  • A safe return home for those in the sky and those on the ground - 35 total hours and 1900 miles in the vans throughout the 5 days

Thank you to everyone who made this happen, in all facets.  Definitely a trip of a lifetime with these growing athletes, and something future teams should consider!


Coach Matt, Coach Josh, Coach Adam, Coach Dalton, Manager Heather, Driver Joe


17th Saturday vs KC Blue-Split 1-1

18th Lost to Omaha and Des Moines Red, 

Both sat/Sun games, the team started to put together offense with passing and positioning. A great step in the right direction. 

Off ice happenings- Team had some bonding time playing paintball, parents wore festive sweaters  and had a delicious cookie exchange.  

Bantam Paintball Fun!

Bantam Paintball Fun!