While the Brown Trout Festival may be the talk of the town for the next week, area sports fans will have the chance to get an early look at the Alpena High hockey team.
The Wildcats will be one of seven teams competing at Northern Lights Arena in this weekend's Memorial Tournament, which will run today, Saturday and Sunday.
Alpena has split its squad into two teams and will play three games today. Alpena 1 plays Pinckney at 3 p.m. and L'Anse Creuse at 8:15 p.m. Alpena 2 will play Birmingham Unified at 6:30 p.m.
Alpena coach Pete Doubek said the aim of the tournament is to allow players to play in a relaxed environment and for coaches to get their first look at players in a game setting.
"You get to know the kids and it's nice to see the kids and get to know them. It's a good thing in a more relaxed setting," Doubek said. "Win or lose, you get to hang out with the kids and get to interact with them on the bench."
On Saturday, Alpena 1 will play Eisenhower at 1:15 p.m. and Birmingham Unified at 6:30 p.m. Alpena 2 will play Walled Lake North at 9:45 a.m. and L'Anse Creuse North at 4:45 p.m.
On Sunday, there will be three games with the matchups determined by the play of the previous two days.
Next weekend, Alpena will play in the three-day Bill Goike Tournament at Northern Lights Arena and again be split into two teams in a seven-team field. Other teams joining Alpena's two squads in that tournament will be Brother Rice, Dearborn, Petoskey, Cheboygan and Soo.
Alpena 1 will play Brother Rice and Soo on Friday and Dearborn and Cheboygan on Saturday. Alpena 2 will play Cheboygan on Friday and Petoskey and Soo on Saturday. Sunday's matchups will once again be determined by the play of the previous two days.
Doubek credited David Guzman and Arena Manager Denny Dacey for bringing quality competition to Alpena in the middle of summer, which will give Doubek and his staff the chance to evaluate some younger players before the regular season begins.
"I think they're fairly excited. It's nice to see some of the young kids," Doubek said. "It looks like a good group and it should be decent competition."