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.

How the Application Process Works and 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.

Our goal is to create balanced and equal competitive brackets, we use an evaluation process based on the information you’ve provided on your application and supporting documents. During the vetting process, we may discover any of the following: your team is or isn’t a good fit or the division you chose doesn’t have a sufficient number of teams. Often times, we find that if there is an issue, it may be as simple as correcting information on your original application.  How well a team fits into a bracket is merely a reflection of how your team matches up against the other teams who have entered in the same division. 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.

We strongly discourage handicapping your team where you sign up. If you’re an A team and having a rough stretch, do NOT sign up in a B division. Our Placement Staff will ensure you are placed in a division with similarly skilled teams.

However, if your team isn’t a good fit or your division doesn’t have enough teams, we will notify you either by phone or email to discuss other options.

We may recommend moving to another event on the same or different weekends because the competition is better suited to your team’s skill level. The intended purpose is to create the best playing experience for your players and their families.

If you are not interested in moving to another event on the same weekend or later in the season, you will receive a full refund.


Start and End Times

Tournaments may start as early as 8:00 AM on Friday, however most events start early afternoon.  The finals, should not begin later than 6:00 PM on Sunday. Nashville events usually begin as early as 8:00 AM on Friday.

For events beginning on Saturday (MLK and President’s Day weekends), we complete round robin play by Sunday afternoon with the consolation games and semi-finals late 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, your team will likely be asked to play games on Friday. See the schedule section below for of special considerations.


Draft schedules will be e-mailed to the team contact(s), no later than the Friday proceeding the event. However, we prefer parents address their concerns to one of their team contacts.

Special considerations, (i.e. coaches multiple teams, wishing to attend a college or pro game , 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. Any special considerations must be sent to and a response of “Approved” must be received to confirm our request.

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.

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 foolproof, 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.

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.

Tournament Policies

Please 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.


Frequently Asked Questions


Q: We’re playing in a division of 5 teams and we have an early game each day. Why?

A: The rules for scheduling events in Michigan are more stringent than those of USA Hockey.  For player safety, USA Hockey recommends 4 hours between games and in Michigan it a rule.  The Michigan rules are USA recommendations and are in place for the safety of the players.  Because of this dynamic, it is our belief that player safety should be at the top of our list of priorities, and we tend to apply the same rules at every venue.

In a division of five teams only four teams can play at any given time with one team sitting out.  This causes a leapfrog effect which in turn affects the schedule.

Q: How do I know if our team is home or away?

A: The home team is always listed first (or to the left on the schedule) and always wears white unless the away team only has one set of jerseys.

Q: How do I find the schedule and results online?

A: Results and your game schedule are available throughout the tournament at the arena or online by using the Game On Mobile app by extreme technologies.   If you prefer to not download the app you can still access GOM by click the GOM logo link  available on the event page on our website just below the event logo.

Other than results and standings, the app has one feature we highly recommend.  You can choose a setting that notifies you each time a game result is posted to a game in your division so you don’t need constantly look for updates.

Q: What do I do if my division has completed the round robin portion of the event and I can’t find the information in GOM for the next round of games, semis, consolation, etc.

A: Results are typically posted within 2 hours of the completion of the final game in the bracket.

Arena & Game Procedures

Q: Once we arrive at the arena what do we need to do?

A: The manager or coach should secure a locker room from the arena staff.

Check in with the tournament director and put the stickers (3) on the score sheet.  If any of your other games are also at that rink, request the score sheets and put stickers on all of them.  Avery labels #5163 are the correct size for our score sheets.

If you have an updated roster or haven’t turned one in yet, you must present an official roster prior to going on the ice.  Failure to do so could result in a forfeit.

Each team contact was provided a copy of the tournament rules and there will also be a copy available the each arena.

Score keepers are scheduled for every tournament game.  On occasion, a score keeper may either be late or sick.  In this instance the tournament director may ask for assistance from one or both of the teams.

Either a coach or parent will need to work the penalty box door. Upon accepting this job, you’ve agreed to be an off-ice official, and you must comply with all USA Hockey requirements.

On Ice Officials

Q: How do I know if the officials are qualified to ref our game?

A: OIO will have a crest on their jerseys with the current year.  Previous seasons crests are good until November.  However, all officials that are used have been vetted prior to the event to ensure that they have registered and are in good standing with the governing body.

Q: What do I do if I don’t agree with the call on the ice?

A: We adhere strictly to the USA Hockey Zero Tolerance policy when it comes to the way you engage with the OIO.  Abusive language, swearing, or threats will result in your removal either from the bench or the arena. Your behavior could also cause your team to be penalized.


Q: We only have one set of jerseys.  How can we be sure this won’t be an issue?

A: Let your tournament director know about this early in the process so we can check with and notify your opponents.


Q: Who receives medals and banners?

A: Medals are awarded to the first and second place teams only. Banners are awarded to the winner of the division.


Q: How do I go about getting a comp room for the coach?

A: Comp rooms are only awarded after the event has been completed so that the hotel can verify rooming requirements are met.  Therefore, the person in line for the comp room will need to pay for their room with a credit card.   If the number of rooms picked up by the team each night meets the criteria posted on our website, then the credit card with be credited for the appropriate number of rooms earned.

Q: We had enough rooms booked at our hotel, but our coach did not receive a comp room.  Why?
A: Comp rooms are earned based on pick up and fulfilling the responsibility clause that was agreed to when registering.  This is accomplished by way of our agreement with each hotel.  Anyone booking a room outside the block, either by points or by some other way is NOT counted as part of your teams pick up.  This lack of compliance not only affects your coach’s comp room, but also your team discount.

Q: We’re playing in a 3 or 4 day tournament over MLK weekend (or President’s Day) and currently don’t know if we need the hotel rooms for 3 nights or more.

A: It is our experience that you should always, initially, book your rooms for the number of nights we advise and then adjust your nights once the schedule is released.  It is easier to cancel a night that to try and add one in a hotel that may already be full on the night you’d like to add.

Age Charts

All events that occur after April 1, 2023 require teams to register in accordance with the age guideline for the 2023-24 season.

2023- 2024 USA Age Classifications

USA Hockey Tier II Age Classifications Squirt / Atom (Canada U11)2013 & 2014 
Peewee (Canada U13)2011 & 2012 
Bantam (Canada U15)2009 & 2010 
Midget Minor  (Canada U16)2007 & 2008 
Midget Major  (Canada U18)2005 & 2006 
Girls 10 & Under Born 2013 or after 
12 & Under Born 2011 or after 
14 & Under Born 2009 or after 
16 & Under Born 2007 or after 
19 & Under Born 2004 or after