Pac-8 hockey training camp debuts at SLT Ice Arena
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — As a handful of college hockey hopefuls showcased their skills for the Pac-8 Conference last week, Tahoe Sports and Entertainment continued to strengthen its relationship with the hockey scene in the West. South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena hosted the Pac-8’s inaugural recruiting camp June 19-21, as part of a growing partnership with the conference.
“We’re partnering with them pretty strongly — and this is just the beginning of it,” said TSE general manager Michael Findorff. “That partnership is a really good spot to be in right now.”
TSE began working with the Pac-8 in February, when it hosted the conference’s championship tournament at SLT Ice Arena. The arena will again host the tournament in 2016, and the debut of the summer training camp is the start of what both sides plan to make a year-round partnership.
“This being the first year that we did the tournament and then this camp, it’s something that we have big plans to grow on,” Findorff said. “We can expand by having another event, and taking the event that we just ran and seeing what we can do with it.
“We really want to make it something that is a draw for top-end players.”
The training camp featured 25 players looking to gain the eye of Pac-8 coaches, including a collection of local talent. That group included Travis Wood, Jackson Oleson, Jake Nelson, Reiss Jensen and Tyler Dill.
“They were really standout players and did a great job on the ice,” Findorff said.
Future plans include hosting the tournament, a pair training camps — and even having Pac-8 teams come to South Lake Tahoe for their preseason camps. Though the Pac-8 is currently part of American Collegiate Hockey Association’s Division II, Findorff sees the potential for it to become part of the NCAA within the next decade.
“It’s a big deal now, and it’s going to become that much bigger as time goes on,” Findorff said.
Last season, Pac-8 regular season champion Arizona State and tournament winner Utah each represented the conference at ACHA Division II nationals — and the defending national champion Sundevils made it to the semifinals. The conference includes six other schools that compete in the Pac-12 Conference — California, Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington and Washington State.
“Hockey is growing big time out west — there’s a big boom of hockey out here and the Pac-8 is going to play a big role in that,” Findorff said. “We want to be right there with them.”
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