Hundreds of young athletes came to Rochester this weekend to play hockey with some of the best in their age group. The Rochester Invitational Hockey Tournament hosted youth hockey teams from all over the country.
For some 11 and 12 year old hockey players, the event is where memories are made.
"This is my first year. It's been going pretty good. We're in the gold semi-finals," said Joey Visconte, 11.
For Visconte, it's also where he got his first taste of competition.
"It's harder than like playing in a regular game because there's more competition," he said.
His team, the Rochester Monarchs, are the only local team out of nearly thirty that played in the tournament at Monroe Community College's Sports Centre.
"They get to compare themselves with kids all over the country and different countries," said Rochester Monarchs Head Coach Rory Fitzpatrick. "I think it's a good opportunity. Sometimes it's a little eye opening for them to see how good kids are from different areas. It also gives them confidence once they go out and compete with those teams and do as well as they do to show they are good little hockey players."
More than 400 children took to the ice this weekend playing for a championship title. Families traveled from as far as Canada, Texas and several east coast states.
"We're here from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and we're rooting for the Junior Flyers," said parent Tom Sheppard. "It's good hockey. It's a lot of fun."
The tournament director says the event brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local economy.
"We have all those teams coming into the area staying at hotels and eating at restaurants throughout their stay so it really helps boost the economy," said Tournament Director Patricia Severo.
"It's been very good for business actually. It's brought in a lot of revenue for the company," said Jon Broida, an assistant manager at the Bill Gray's located inside the Sports Centre.
Whether it's gold, silver, or bronze, organizers say what they want kids to take home is their experience.
"We always joke that no matter who wins or loses, that 10 years from now, 20 years from now, these kids are only going to remember the friendships they've built and the fun they've had when they come and play," said Severo.