The 2023 CCM World Invite Chicago put on an impressive display of elite hockey talent and superior event hosting like no other

Without question, the 2023 CCM World Invite Chicago was a success with a large turnout of young ice hockey players, families, celebrities and influencers. Spearheaded by 200×85, the worldwide leader in elite youth hockey tournament and training experiences, the CCM World Invite is the world’s largest boys youth ice hockey tournament featuring 10,000+ young athletes from over 500 teams across North America, Great Britain and the Czech Republic.

A world-class opening day reception at CCM World Invite

Presented by DuPage Sports Commission, the CCM World Invite celebrated its 20th anniversary in style with opening day festivities taking place at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge, Illinois from November 2–5. Young players were not only excited to meet social media influencers like Olly and Jacob from On the Bench and Coach Chippy, but also to get a close look at the Stanley Cup. That’s right, the Lord Stanley was present for the opening day, along with all of the Hockey Hall of Fame trophies like the Hart Memorial, Conn Smythe and Vezina.

“It was a special evening for the DuPage Sports Commission to be a part of the 20th anniversary CCM World Invite as a presenting sponsor,” said Igor Bakovic, director of sports at DuPage Sports Commission. “The 200×85 team was amazing to work with and did a phenomenal job orchestrating the opening night on Thursday. Our VIPs and community partners really appreciated the opportunity to experience the Stanley Cup as well as the other Hockey Hall of Fame trophies.”

The line to get a glimpse of the world-famous trophies began to swell quickly as youths and adults alike buzzed with excitement—but the fun didn’t stop there. Alongside the trophies were displays showcasing the evolution of the goalie mask. Masks from the start of use, simple in design when compared to the modern full headgear worn by stoppers, ranged in artistic flair as well from an American flag design to classic Hartford Whalers green, blue and white striping.

Young athletes and other guests were particularly keen to show off their stick-handling skills at the CCM Stick Demo and CCM Activation booth. Along with trying out the new ASG stick and playing the exclusive GOAT game, hidden golden tickets were available to find where winners would receive unique prizes.

Meanwhile, across from the CCM booth, cast members of the cult hit 1977 sports comedy Slap Shot were present, including two of the Hanson brothers, “Killer” Carlson and captain Johnny Upton. All four were in Chiefs sweaters, signing autographs and taking photos with fans.

Hockey influencers and Slap Shot cast members pose with captains of the Chicago Mission and Vancouver Island Royals. Photo courtesy of 200×85.

Youth games, live music and energizing national anthems

Throughout the afternoon and early evening, the Olympic and NHL ice sheets at the arena were active with games taking place between 10 premier youth teams. Puck drops for these action-packed 25-minute games were special events themselves with the aforementioned celebrities taking part, along with former pro basketball player Igor Bakovic. Legendary Chicago Blackhawks anthem singer Jim Cornelison sang the Canadian and American national anthems for select games, bringing the big-time feel of the competition to life even more for the young athletes on this opening day.

“After my first puck drop alongside Jim Cornelison, the VIP reception completed the lively evening with great food and entertainment,” said Bakovic.

On the second floor of the arena, parents in particular were able to mingle at the bar and restaurant while the turf field was transformed into multiple sections. In one area, multiple games were available for young players not taking part on the ice at Top Shot’s Interactive Experience, with games ranging from Perfect Pass to Goalie Challenge.

Surrounding the games were multiple booths, including the famous Howie’s Hockeyville, showing off everything from hockey equipment to custom branding options for teams and even technology advancements that the NHL utilizes, which can follow and record players for skill analysis, personal interests like family footage and more.

To top off the opening day celebrations, the Blooze Brothers put on a live performance while all present were able to enjoy meticulously carved ice sculptures with unique designs like Lord Stanley.

Video presentation of the 2023 CCM World Invite Chicago. Video courtesy of DuPage Sports Commission.

Wrapping up a staggering amount of elite youth hockey games

After Thursday’s opening day success, Friday morning through Sunday evening were dedicated to youth hockey competition. Across the Chicagoland area and as far north as southern Wisconsin, over 50 ice sheets were utilized as 1,204 games took place. Competition was fierce across the 26 divisions, with a range from 2014 Supertacks to 18U Ribcor.

Local youth club the Chicago Reapers took home the most titles, winning four across multiple age groups. In 2010 Supertacks, the Reapers scored an astonishing 19 goals over just three games as they dominated their division. Their 2014 Supertacks team also accumulated the most shutouts of any team, but fell short in the final against the Battery. On the way to earning their 2014 Ribcor banner, the Kensington Valley Renegades averaged the most goals per game of any team in the entire Invite at 7.32.

18U Ribcor’s championship game was cut short due to a player injury. As a result, both teams were co-crowned and thankfully the injury was not serious as the player was able to leave in good health. Calling the game due to injury was an admirable decision.

• 2014 Supertacks: Battery Byers Hockey
• 2013 Supertacks:
Chicago Reapers
• 2013 Ribcor:
Northern Express
• 2012 Jetspeed:
Pittsburgh Penguins Elite – Ciocca
• 2011 Supertacks:
Chicago Reapers
• 2011 Ribcor:
Chicago Jets
• 2010 Jetspeed:
Jersey Hitmen
• 2009 Supertacks Crosby:
Little Caesars
• 2009 Jetspeed:
St. Louis Sting
• 15U Supertacks:
Chicago Mission
• 15U Ribcor:
St. Louis Sting
• 16U Jetspeed:
Lake County Vipers
• 18U Supertacks:
Madison Capitols
• 2014 Ribcor: Kensington Valley Renegades
• 2013 Jetspeed:
Pittsburgh Penguins Elite – Wynn
• 2012 Supertacks:
Chicago Reapers
• 2012 Ribcor:
Carolina Stars
• 2011 Jetspeed:
Eastman Selects South Black
• 2010 Supertacks:
Chicago Reapers
• 2010 Ribcor:
Connecticut Jr Rangers Premier
• 2009 Supertacks Ovechkin:
Elk River Bantam AA
• 2009 Ribcor:
Rochester Rattlers Black
• 15U Jetspeed:
Oakland Jr Grizzlies
• 16U Supertacks:
Chicago Fury
• 16U Ribcor:
Indy Jr. Fuel
• 18U Ribcor:
Chicago Hawks & Orland Park Vikings
All 26 division champions at the 2023 CCM World Invite Chicago.

On to the next big chapters in youth ice hockey

With the biggest boys competition out of the way, 200×85 have their sights set on the CCM Girls Windy City Elite, taking place December 1–3. Along with premier North American tournaments, competitions in Prague, Helsinki and of course the stunning and picturesque Bled, Slovenia for the CCM World Euro Invite Bled are also on the cards.

The 2024 CCM World Invite will also return to DuPage County and be played throughout Chicagoland in early November. Be sure to sign up early to ensure your team is able to compete on the biggest stage in boys youth hockey.

By Christopher D. Silbernagel

Main image: One of many impressive ice sculpture displays at the 2023 CCM World Invite Chicago. Photo courtesy of 200×85.