All Your Go-To Tournament Information
Thank you for looking at NST for your Tournament needs. We appreciate your consideration, as I know how difficult it can be to pick the proper tournament with all the choices out there today. Gene Carella, NST Co-Tournament Director, has been presenting tournament opportunities since 1990 for what was formerly known as Grand Niagara Cataracts Hockey Association. In 1999, he started Niagara Sport Tournaments to help provide youth hockey to hundreds of teams throughout the U.S. and Canada per year. Gene also raised four hockey players, and through his travels to many tournaments, he understands what hockey parents’ want. Gene's son Michael now runs the company but still has the same goal as his father, which is to make sure that every player has a great time win or loss. Hockey is a GAME where the end result should be smiling kids who don't even realize the life lessons they are learning.
I (Michael) have been to many tournaments in my playing and coaching days where what was advertised was not what we got. For example, I remember a tournament where our AA Minor Bantam teams was playing in the same division as AAA Major Bantams! The tournament director was nowhere to be found, and the staff that was there could not help solve this problem. In a different tournament, the schedule that was sent a week before the tournament, was changed the DAY before the tournament started, which completely change our hotel and other plans we had outside of the tournament. This will not happen at NST. I personally am present for EVERY game of the tournament so if you need to find me you can and the schedule is send out 3-4 weeks before the tournament.
I put all teams through a rigorous screening process to ensure each team is placed in the proper division. As you may know there is no exact science to paring teams. Since there are many different classifications used by amateur hockey teams in different regions of the United States, and Canada (see Screening process tab above). Divisions can get messy if careful consideration is not taken. We at NST, take much time and effort to create well-balanced divisions. Nothing is more disheartening then driving to a tournament to blow out a team or get blown out by a team.
Teams also do not want to travel to a tournament just to be place in the same side of a division as team from their local leagues. My father and I take great pride in delivering an enjoyable tournament experience for our tournament families. This is evidenced by an incredible return rate in tournament participation by hockey associations. We only accept between 40-60 teams per tournament. This wide range in number of teams ensures each division of each tournament has balanced competition. We will not force a division together just to fill ice! We believe in quality over quantity when it comes to our tournaments.
- All games will be played under WNY/USA hockey rules. This is a USA hockey sanctioned tournament. ALL players must be recognized by USA hockey or C.A.H.A/ OMHA. The use of any illegal or unauthorized played will result in immediate team expulsion from the tournament and the loss of all fees paid. Teams must sign in on team’s sheet before first game.
- There will be three (ten 10) minute periods in mites, three eleven (11) minute periods in Squirt divisions, three twelve (12) in Peewee, Bantam and Junior Varsity, and three thirteen (13) in Midget divisions. No time outs are allowed in regular division games. A maximum of one minute will be given between periods in all games. A delay of game penalty will be given if teams exceed that time. This is to ensure that game times stay on schedule during the tournament.
- Minor penalties shall be 2 minutes (1.5 minutes for mites and squirts), major penalties- 5 minutes and misconduct penalties- 10 minutes. All Match Penalties will be handled in accordance with USA Hockey. Upon receiving a Match Penalty, the PLAYER, COACH OR MANAGER will be suspended for the duration of the tournament. A Match Penalty hearing will take place prior to the end of the tournament. The PLAYER, COACH OR MANAGER charged will be notified of time and place of hearing for which they must be present. The Coach or Manager must come into the registration area immediately after the game to be told the time and date of the hearing. The hearing committee will include the Supervisor of Officials of the Tournament, the Tournament Chairman and one other tournament staff member. The Match Penalty committee will render its decision in writing, with copies sent to USA Hockey, the Home organization and the PLAYER, COACH OR MANAGER who received the match penalty. The hearing decision will be made prior to the conclusion of said tournament. It is the coach's responsibility to have this decision in hand before the tournament ends.
- Any penalty for fighting or match penalty given will result in automatic suspension from the tournament.
- Teams must be present and ready to play no later than 1/2 hour before scheduled game time.
- Before playing first game, all teams must sign in and present their USA, GTHL or OMHA hockey roster or to tournament registrar for final approval noting any changes since application time.
- Only players and a maximum of 4 team officials will be permitted at the player's bench.
- In the event that a team obtains a 5-goal lead during the third period, stop time will be changed to running time. If the lead becomes
- THE RULES COMMITTEE RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY ANY RULE HEREIN WHICH IS DEEMED NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE TOURNAMENT OR AMATEUR HOCKEY. THE DECISION OF THE RULES COMMITTEE IS FINAL.
- Car keys are required for dressing room keys in registration room. The locker room should be clean upon arrival. Your team is responsible for picking up after itself after use and reporting any damage to tournament officials. When room is cleaned by your team and tournament staff member checks it, and the key returned, your car keys will be returned. If damage to the dressing rooms occurs, teams will be responsible for full payment of damage before leaving the ice facility.
All games are worth 5 points until your division starts the elimination rounds (quarterfinals, semifinal, crossover games). In these rounds, whatever team win advances.
4 Team Division
Four teams in total make up one division. Each team will play three games. The top two point getting teams will play in the final.
5 Team Division
Five teams in total makeup one division. Each team will play 2 games. The bottom point getting teams (4th and 5th place) will advance to a quarterfinal game. The top 3 teams will automatically advance to the semi-finals where 2nd place teams play the 3rd place team and the 1st place team will play the winner of the quarter final game. Winners of the semi-finals advance to the championship game.
6 Team Division
Six teams in total makeup 2 divisions A1 and A2. You play each team in your division in your first two games. Your third game will be a crossover game with the other division determined by the amount of points accumulated in first two games. The first place of one division plays the second place of the other division. The winner of these two crossover games advance to championship. The third-place teams in each division play in a consolation game.
7 Team Division
Seven teams in total make up one division. Each team plays 2 games. The first-place team (team with most points) will receive a buy into the semi-final round. The six remaining teams will advance to the quarterfinal round where 2nd place vs 7th, 3rd vs 6th, and 4th vs 5th. The 3 winning teams from the quarterfinal round advance to the semi-final round. First round results will determine how the teams are seeded, so the 1st place team from round 1 that received the buy, will play the lowest seeded winner of the quarterfinal, and the 2 remaining teams will play each other. Winner will advance to the championship game.
Eight Team Division
Alternate format: Eight teams in total, makeup two division A1 and A2. The four teams in each of the two divisions play 3 games within their division. The top team from each division advances to the championship game.
Ties will be broken by:
- Head to head
- Fewest Goals allowed (total of all games).
- Least Penalty Minutes (All misconducts will be assessed 10 minutes to the game sheet).
Overtime rules for Championship and Crossover games.
- There will be one five-minute "sudden death overtime" period consisting of 4 players from each team.
- Penalties will be played as 4 on 3. If the penalty killing team takes an additional penalty the power play team will gain a player making the advantage 5 on 3.
- Teams do not switch ends. The ice will not be resurfaced.
- If the game does not end via a goal being scored, a shoot-out will be used. Each team will designate three players to participate who will take shots. USA hockey penalty shot rules will be used. The team scoring the most goals in the shootout round of the 3 shots will be the winner. Additional shooters will be used if teams are in a tie.
- The home team gets the option of shooting first or last.
Please remember that all USA and New York State Hockey rules apply during all tournaments.
Zero Tolerance is in effect for all coaches, players and spectators and will be strictly enforced by the referees. If unruly spectators are asked to leave and do not, the clock will begin to run until that spectator complies. Each team coach is responsible for his parents. Make sure that the parents understand that this rule will be strictly enforced. It may negatively affect your team.
- Checking from behind is a 2 and 10 minimum or a 5 minute and a game.
- A game misconduct will result in the suspension of that player for the remainder of the game and the next game unless 3rd man in rule applies.
- Any player that gets 5 or more penalties in a game will result in the suspension of that player in that game and the following game.
- Any coach whose team incurs 15 or more penalties in one game will result in the suspension of that coach in the following game. The coach may watch the game from the stands but may not communicate with the team in any manner. Failure to abide by these will result in the expulsion of the coach from the tournament and the rink.
- Games involving a Match penalty will result in an immediate suspension and expulsion of that person from the tournament. Further disciplinary actions will be taken against the coach, team or player. USA hockey will be notified along with the parent organization.
Check out the attractions around the rink
All U.S.A. Hockey Rules and Regulations will be applicable. Tournament Rules are posted on our website under the tournament rules link. Please note that all of our tournaments are run on a point-per-period scoring system, where each game is worth 5 points which will be divided between the two teams.
All U.S. and Canadian Teams must be registered with their respective parent organizations for the 2015-2016 season. Only U.S.A. hockey age classifications will be accepted. A certified U.S.A. or C.A.H.A. Hockey Team roster will be required before final acceptance is granted. It must also be presented at registration check-in.
Level of Competition:
Classification systems (AAA, AA, A, B, AE, house select & house) may have slightly different meanings from area to area. Expect to encounter teams that may have different eligibility or classification rules that may not correspond to what you are accustomed to in your area. The age groups for USA Hockey and those of the Canadian Hockey Association are basically the same, however, areas that have large numbers of registered players tend to further delineate within the 2-year window allowed for each age group. In these situations, teams composed of exclusively or primarily of players in their 1st year of eligibility of a particular age group will play in their respective home areas against like teams.
New York has areas that use both the two year USA Hockey age window and the single calendar year to determine the make-up of their teams. There are also teams that travel from New York who are rostered as B/travel.
Ontario has much more skill classification, per the calendar year age grouping than any USA Hockey affiliate. These include AAA, AA, A, BB, B, AE (additional entry) and House. Many governing bodies within Ontario also permits Select or All-Star teams to form for the sole purpose of competing in events.
Cleveland Suburban League uses the RPI system and classifies teams as AA, A1, A2, A3, B1, and B2.
In Massachusetts, teams are classified A, B, and C with the exception of the Boston Metro League.
In Michigan they’re referred to as “A” teams, in Ontario & Western New York they are referred to as “minor” teams. Michigan is still the only place in the universe, to our knowledge, where the A & AA classifications are age groups and not skill levels.
Ohio is growing their hockey programs rapidly, but there are not the concentrations of players you'll find in Michigan or Illinois and therefore the talent is also spread out. Each season we see additional ice arenas being built, added to or renovated in Ohio. With the addition of the Blue Jackets in Columbus, it's only a matter of time.
Indiana like Ohio suffers from a lack of ice arenas. Again there are several programs across the state and new arenas are being built each season. House program teams in Indiana do not travel to tournaments. Programs in Indiana typically form an All-Star team from their house programs which either compete in the B or A brackets of our events.
Florida also has an interesting way of organizing youth hockey. A & AA teams are typically designated as such depending on the league you choose. For instance, teams playing in the Central Florida Hockey League are all designated A teams with those teams playing in the statewide league designated as AA teams. In addition, a team can be formed in Florida for the sole purpose of attending a tournament and these teams are rostered as tournament teams.
Playing Levels - Boys Teams
Our tournament divisions are based on the following general guidelines. Variations are possible based on the skill level of specific teams:
AA - The "best" or first picked travel team within a Tier II organization. These teams will often consist primarily of "second-year" or "major" aged players within the age group. In some cases, Major A teams are also a more appropriate fit for this level.
A - The second team or lower teams within a hockey organization and/or teams consisting Primarily of "first-year" players within the age classification or "minor" teams of a suitable skill level.
B - The third, or lower, travel level teams chosen within a Tier II organization or teams that are classified as Tier III. Teams at the B levels may often be populated by many players in their first year of "travel" hockey.
Playing Levels - Girls Teams
AA - Top competitive team in an association or district.
A - Competitive travel teams that are tournament bound.
B - Recreational/House/Travel teams that are not tournament bound.
C - Developmental teams - Teams that mainly comprised of first-year players with no more than 20% returning players
Playing Levels - High School - Varsity / JV
Age divisions and classifications may vary between the U.S. and Canada and, in some cases, from state to state. The tournament director will discuss appropriate placement of all teams to ensure fair, competitive and equitable playing divisions.
Teams are required to stay at one of the approved host hotels. A list of approved hotels will be sent as soon as the entry fee is received. The reservation committee will book all team rooms. Teams are not allowed to book their own reservations. It is suggested that team managers/coaches respond quickly since there are limited rooms available at each hotel. Call for further information.
Please note - Teams that do not stay at approved hotels will be removed from the tournament and forfeit their entry fees.
Please complete the electronic registration. The application will not be processed until the entry fee is received. Applications are taken in the order they are received. Full payment must be included in U.S. funds.
A CERTIFIED BANK CHECK OR ASSOCIATION CHECK SHOULD BE USED.
Sheraton Niagara Falls
$139 per night
- 8 minutes to Hyde Park Ice Pavilion
- Reef Beach Club Indoor Pool
- “At The Falls Arcade” with 37 state-of-the-art games
- On Site TGI Fridays, Rainforest Café and full service Starbucks
- Connected to Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino (Up to $100 per room in Casino credit)
- Sheraton Niagara Falls Hotel Site
Wyndham Garden Inn
Radisson Grand Island
$133 per night
- Tastefully appointed guestrooms with balconies
- Renovated state-of-the-art fitness center, indoor & outdoor pools, whirlpool & sauna
- Game rooms, and a 24HR business center
- Complimentary Parking
- WIFI ACCESS
$133 per night
- Includes $5.00 free play to the Great American Arcade – over 45 interactive games!
- Anchor Bar and Restaurant – Home of the Original Buffalo Wing
- 4 million dollar renovation completed in 2015
- Indoor Heated Pool
- Walking distance to Niagara Falls
Buffalo Grand Hotel & Conference Center
$134 per night
- Dining options include a colorful, contemporary restaurant, a lounge for drinks and light bites, and 24-hour room service
- Indoor pool and a fitness center
- 486 deluxe guest rooms, including a variety of luxurious suites
- Free WiFi, flat-screen TVs, desks and coffeemakers
- Upgraded rooms can sleep 4 and some include iPod docks, minifridges and microwaves
$119 per night
- Less than 10 minutes to Hyde Park
- FREE Parking
- FREE Breakfast
- Indoor Heated Salt Water and 24/7 Fitness Center
- Less than 200 Steps to Niagara Falls State Park
$120 per night
- 192 Guest Rooms
- Heated Indoor pool and a fitness center
- Flat screen TVS and Complimentary High Speed WIFI
- Parkway Prime Restaurant
- Mini Refrigerators in all Guest Rooms
Hampton Inn Niagara Falls
$125 per night
- 7 minutes to Hyde Park Ice Pavilion
- Complimentary Wifi
- Complimentary parking
- Complimentary Hot Buffet Breakfast
- Meeting Room space available upon request
Comfort Inn & Suites
$129 per night
- BRAND NEW HOTEL with FREE parking
- Hot Breakfast included
- Fitness Center
- Year round pool
- 5 min to Hyde Park
Check out the live stats for the Festival of Lights Tournament!
NST Tournaments Features:
A friendly, courteous staff with a tournament director present at ALL times.
Experienced Referees with the Supervisor of Officials present for EVERY game.
First Class hotel rooms at the LOWEST rates in WNY.
ONLY Tournament operator in WNY to have an EMT present at every game.
Great restaurants, tourist attractions, casino gambling.
Convenient Tournament dates so the LEAST amount of school is missed.
Buffalo Sabres and Niagara University Division I hockey.
Game sheets prepared by tournament staff for every game.
We will have a parents party at the rink from 9pm-1am. Complimentary beer and entertainment will be provided.
After one game, NST will provide a tray of pizza that can be enjoyed in J.R. Stone room, which is attached to the rink.
Why play with NST?
Voted #1 Tournament Operator in WNY
We spend hundreds of hours screening each application, and unlike other organizations that run 20-30 tournaments per year, we run 5 tournaments. With more than enough applicants, we carefully place each team, where the objective of these larger tournament venues is to fill their tournaments with as many teams as possible.
With 25 years of experience, we have learned over the years that keeping things organized makes it easier for everyone. and for our attendees.
We provide a tournament schedule 3-4 weeks prior to the tournament event. Schedules seldom change since we put our schedules through a rigorous approval process, not to mention that all teams have already paid in full, and we typically have a waiting list.
USA Hockey Sanctioned
Each player receives thank you gift (bag tag, puck, etc) for entering the tournament. The gift changes every tournament. Teams that advance to the championship game receive either individual runner-up or championship trophies. Champions will also receive a team trophy. Understanding kids expectations when making it to the Championship game; we spare no expense when it comes to our trophies.
Multiple Team/Tournament Discounts
Balanced, Competitive, well thought out Divisions
Individual and Team awards for Finalists and Champions
3 - 5 games guaranteed
Complimentary Bag Tag for each Player