The weekend of March 9-11, 2012, twelve high school club hockey teams from Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus will compete for the Buckeye Cup Championship at the Ohio Health Ice Haus and Chiller North. The Cup, the Holy Grail among Ohio’s three highly competitive prep club leagues, annually draws outstanding individual talent as well as spirited team play well worth watching.
While the defending champion Northeast Storm out of Columbus’ GCHSCHL ranks will return to compete for the Cup, three other strong contenders from the league will take their run at keeping the hardware in Franklin County. The top-seeded and top-ranked Hilliard Wildcats, winners of their first-ever regular season championship lead the charge along with the Bluejacket Cup champion and second ranked and seeded Newark Generals, the Westerville Warcats, and Storm.
From Cleveland’s North Coast League come Fremont, Jackson, North Royalton, and Medina. And, Cincinnati’s CHSHL sends Mason, Butler County, Lakota West, and Northern Kentucky.
The club circuits that feature nine teams in Cleveland, nine in Cincinnati, and six here in Columbus’ GCHSCHL, are open to those student-athletes whose high schools do not sponsor varsity teams under the auspices of the Ohio High School Athletic Association. The clubs are governed by the rules and regulations of USA Hockey and provide much-needed outlets for many talented players who otherwise might not be in a position to continue youth hockey careers.
In 1998-99 Columbus’ GCHSCHL was established. The Original “7” members were Hilliard Southwest, Dublin, Olentangy, Pickerington/Reynoldsburg, St. Charles, Westerville, and Gahanna. As hockey became more popular among the high schools in Columbus, the number of member teams began to fluctuate as some clubs pursued membership in the OHSAA.
The GCHSCHL continues to develop and promote high school hockey through its current six member teams; the Athens Bobcats, Hilliard Southwest Wildcats, Newark Generals, Northeast Storm, and PRPC Prowlers (Pickerington/ Reynoldsburg/ Pataskala/Canal Winchester).
So, whether you are a casual fan of the game or a self-declared “Rink Rat”, you are bound to find an abundance of outstanding and highly competitive hockey in Columbus this coming weekend.
The tournament, sponsored by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Papa Johns Pizza, Marriott, and Ohio Sports Marketing, runs through the weekend with each team facing a grueling five-game grind to claim the Cup in a championship game set for Sunday at Chiller North at 4 p.m.
Admission to each game at every location is free as are programs. Commemorative t-shirts are also available along with professional photography services for individual and team sales.
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