It was the 31st annual Old Timers Hockey Tournament this weekend in the Copper Country roping in 32 teams from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
â??They do food, and they stop and see places, and they play a lot of hockey,â?? said owner and manager of Armandoâ??s Restaurant and Douglass House Saloon, Robert Magowen.
Hundreds of players ages 20 to over 70 fill the Houghton County Arena, Dee Stadium, and Michigan Tech Student Development Complex for the championship tournament.
For the Houghton-Hancock area, that means big business as players book hotel rooms weeks in advance and gather at local restaurants to grab some grub between match-ups.
â??They stop here for a Bloody Mary and a beer, then they go do something else,â?? Magowen said. â??They have a lot of fun in Houghton and Hancock.â??
Itâ??s a much-needed boost in the midst of the winter lull. Not only are there flocks of snowbirds leaving the area for warmer weather, college students are away for Spring Break as well.
â??College students are gone, so now you have an influx of older kids coming up here to play hockey and sit and have some beers and stuff like that, so it sort of makes up for the fact that the college kids are on spring break,â?? explained Magowen.
Although the players take the championship tournament seriously, itâ??s also for the fun of it. Many players have been in it since its creation 30 years ago, and they keep coming back.
â??People come here every year to play this,â?? said Magowen. â??Thereâ??s a group out of Green Bay that comes every year. Thereâ??s a group out of Ann Arbor. Then, some of your local teams are like, youâ??ve got a guy from Marquette, youâ??ve got a guy from Escanaba, a guy from Saulte Ste Marie all skating together on the same team.â??