Robertson Cup preparations continue
by By Scott Montesano
In just over a month, Mason City and the North Iowa Ice Arena will not only become the center of attention of the NAHL, but for all of USA Hockey when the 2009 Robertson Cup Championship Tournament takes place from April 28-May 3.
The six day-event will bring together five of the top Tier II Junior A teams in the country and also feature a banquet on the eve of play on April 27.
North Iowa is arguably on the verge of one of the region’s most exciting moments in history and, as the tournament draws closer, preparations are moving along as well as expected.
Efforts to ensure a high-quality event worthy of hosting a national tournament have been ongoing since last summer and, thanks to unwavering support from the community, everything is falling into place.
As the host of the Robertson Cup, the Outlaws are responsible for providing all the lodging and meals for each teams, plus league officials and referees.
Lodging for the tournament will be provided by the Holiday Inn of Mason City and the Best Western in Clear Lake, both longtime Outlaws sponsors. Also providing rooms will be the Hanford Inn and Comfort Inn, both located in Mason City. The Holiday Inn is also serving as host of the pre-tournament banquet, which promises to be a lavish affair with two special guest speakers who will be announced in the coming weeks.
As far as meals, that’s where North Iowa restaurateurs have been more than generous in what they’ve been willing to offer. Whether before or after games, players will be dining at or receiving food from no less than eight different restaurants.
Godfather’s Pizza, the Other Place in Clear Lake, Whiskey Creek, Bonanza Steakhouse, the Pita Pit, Quiznos and Carlos O’ Kelly’s will all be feeding players. In addition, the Rib Crib, Cabin Coffee, Fareway Supermarket and Dugan’s Supermarket will assist with feeding NAHL officials and also treating the numerous collegiate and professional scouts who will be in Mason City for the week.
With food and lodging taken care of, many other businesses have provided their assistance through monetary sponsorships as Outlaws supporters this season. North Iowa remains one of the best teams in the NAHL in regards to corporate sponsorships with approximately 50 local businesses providing support. In addition, a stable of almost 20 volunteers and part-time staff will assist the Outlaws’ front office in orchestrating this weeklong tournament.
The Outlaws are guaranteed a berth in the tournament regardless of their finish in the upcoming NAHL playoffs, and will be joined by the four playoff winners from the NAHL’s West, South, North and Central Divisions. If the Outlaws win the Central playoffs, the team they defeat in the divisional finals will be invited.
The Outlaws organization is proud to be bringing this prestigious event to the community as a way of showing how grateful the franchise is for its support, but also as a way of showcasing what an NAHL team can mean to a smaller-sized community.
Since 2004, the tournament has been held in such larger metropolitan areas as Dallas and St. Louis but it’s the Outlaws’ firm belief that the 2008-09 event will go down as the most well-run event in the tournament’s recent history.
With the 2009 Robertson Cup marking the 20th anniversary of the former North Iowa Huskies’ one and only national championship won in Chicago in 1989, the Outlaws organization is making sure to honor this occasion. Plans are ongoing for a special ceremony featuring former Mason City youth hockey officials, along with former Huskies coaches and players to mark that special moment.
As the tournament draws closer, the most up-to-date information on the event can be found at both RobertsonCup.com and NorthIowaOutlaws.com.