All Big Bear events are USA Hockey sanctioned and that sanction number can be found on the event page for each tournament. If the sanction field reads ‘Pending’, then the sanction number has been applied for and we are waiting on the registrar to process our application.

To participate, each team must submit a stamped or certified USA Hockey roster a minimum of 30 days prior to each event. A stamped or certified USA Hockey roster will include the signature of your USA Hockey district registrar.

Travel permits are required from all Canadian teams and any U.S. teams where the USA affiliate requires them. Please check with your club registrar for this information.

When completed, both of these forms can be uploaded through your online portal to your tournament application.

Start and End Times

Tournaments may start as early as 8:00 AM on Friday but typically begin after noon.  The finals, in most cases, will not begin later than 6:00 PM on Sunday. Nashville events usually begin as early as 8:00 AM on Friday. As each event is different and is bound by the ice available, please check the information link on the event you’re interested in for event specific details with regard to start times.

For events beginning on Saturday (MLK and President’s Day weekends), our usual plan is to complete your round robin by Sunday afternoon with the consolation games and semi-finals on Sunday (ice permitting). Monday is generally reserved for finals and sometimes consolation games. If you have requested a scheduling consideration that doesn’t fit within the previous scheduling description like attending an NHL game on Saturday night, your team will likely be asked to play the game to be played at that time on Friday. See the schedule section below for an explanation of special considerations.


Schedules will be e-mailed to the team contact(s), no later than the Friday proceeding the event. Our experience indicates that having a single contact per team tends to avoid confusion. However, we prefer to have the e-mail address for both the manager and head coach in the event there is a problem with one e-mail. Parents should address their concerns to one of these contacts.

Special considerations, (i.e. coaches behind the bench for multiple teams, wishing to attend a college or pro game the weekend of your tournament, or any other request) outside the realm of the tournament you plan to attend should be in writing in the comment section of your application. Sending an e-mail or calling and telling a staff member is playing with fate. Any special requests should be discussed in detail at least six weeks prior to your tournament to ensure our understanding and your satisfaction.

Tournament Fees

Due to the exchange rate with Canada, Canadian teams are now eligible for the following discounts: If your home arena is within 70 miles of our tournament venue, you will be considered a local team not requiring a hotel stay, and you can deduct $250.00 from your entry fee which is payable in U.S. funds. If your team requires a hotel stay, please refer to the amazing other discount (up to 50% off) listed on your team application or call our office for further details. Please also refer to the “policy” link for detailed information regarding payments and refunds.

Air Travel

Please provide a team itinerary as soon as it is available. Our tournament coordinators will work closely with your team contact to ensure that your games are scheduled with your arrival and departure dates and times in mind.

Team Placement

The biggest challenge in bringing together teams from all over the U.S. and Canada lies in the reality that very few programs use the same guidelines to determine skill levels and the ones that do commonly have the same names but rarely are equal. Our goal is to determine, as best we can, where each team actually belongs for the best competition. We rely a great deal on your input to bring this about in the early fall and spring. No one wants to travel great distances to either win or lose a game by 10 goals. While it is extremely difficult to always create the perfect match-ups, we do pledge to each Big Bear participant that we will never knowingly put teams of different skill levels in a division just to fill a slot. When you’ve decided to attend one of our tournaments, you will be asked several questions to help us with the process and sometimes to fill out a questionnaire with additional information pertaining to each player on your team. This helpful information will help us provide a better tournament experience. We thank you for your cooperation.  Sandbagging will not be tolerated.

In addition, our events, like leagues, create “artificial classifications”. By doing this it is our intention to place your team with other teams of a similar rating. So please do not be alarmed if you register as an A team and for the purpose of a tournament are placed in an A2 or A3 bracket. All it means is that our evaluation has placed you in a bracket with other teams that should result in even competition and better results.

Levels of Competition

Predicting results of opposing teams and therefore establishing competitive groups of teams from various areas requires a great deal of communication and a general understanding of how different USA Hockey, Canadian, and other IIHF affiliates manage their hockey programs.

While our methods are not full proof, we give you our pledge that we take our jobs very seriously. By choice, we have created an atmosphere where child athletes can participate and experience the joy of this sport. We will never intentionally place teams together that don’t belong.
At the same time, we’d like you to think of the best team in your area in any given classification and imagine the result of that team playing the least skilled team in the same identical classification in your area and what the result of that game might be. We don’t offer this example as a prelude to an excuse, but you should keep in mind that even within an affiliate where the rules and criteria for establishing teams is identical, there is a wide range of talent from top to bottom.

Frankly folks, we love great competition as much as anyone and of course there’s a time to take the years experience and skills developed and put all the marbles on the table. I’m just not so sure it’s at every game all year long. Winning is fun but please don’t make it the only fun.

At the end of the day, our goal is to have as many one goal games as possible with divisions where all of the teams are tied after their second game of the tournament. Unfortunately this doesn’t always occur. But developing hockey players and teaching them to compete, like running a tournament company, is a process with some days and events being better than others.

I’m always reminded of the day the Detroit Red Wings beat the Montreal Canadians by 10 goals and Patrick Roy asked to be traded the next day. If lopsided games can occur at the pro level, they most certainly will also happen in youth hockey.

Tournament Policies

We urge everyone to thoroughly read our tournament policies prior to entering our events. It will help define many of the procedures we employ and answer many of your questions. A policy link is available in the menu in the right margin of each city and event web page. Additional concerns may be addressed in our “FAQ” link.