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Grand Rapids, Mich. – Ferris State University men's ice hockey fans making the trek to Grand Rapids a day early to cheer on their team at the WCHA Final Five Championship this weekend will be treated to a free WCHA Final Five Kickoff this Thursday, March 20, from 4-8 p.m. (ET) at the Deltaplex Arena in Grand Rapids.
Organized by the West Michigan Sports Commission and sponsored by the Deltaplex Arena, Experience Grand Rapids and the four participating tournament hotels (Holiday Inn Express North, Riverfront Hotel, SpringHill Suites North and Hampton Inn), the event will feature live music, interactive games and activities, jumbo television screens to watch March Madness basketball, food and drink concessions, plus a chance to see the Broadmoor Trophy that will be awarded to the Final Five champion during the tournament.
Free shuttles also will run between the Deltaplex and participating hotels. The evening highlight will be a singing contest in which one winner will be chosen to sing live during the WCHA Final Five tournament at Van Andel Arena.
The kickoff event is open to the public, and attendance is not dependent on purchasing tournament tickets.
"This event is for both the community and traveling hockey fans to celebrate the sport of hockey and share in the excitement of the WCHA Final Five tournament coming to West Michigan," said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission. "We encourage fans traveling in for the tournament to come in a day early to enjoy the kickoff event festivities and local hospitality, plus our local residents to come out and celebrate this exciting event right in our backyard."
The WCHA Kickoff highlight will be the WCHA: The Voice singing contest, in which one winner will be chosen to sing live during the WCHA Five Hockey Tournament at Van Andel Arena in addition to receiving a $100 Visa gift card and $25 gift card to Peppino's Pizzeria & Sports Grille plus two tickets to the WCHA Final Five hockey game. Interested contestants can sign up on the event Facebook page or upon arrival (and should arrive no later than 5:30 p.m.). Contestants should be prepared with two songs and will sing one minute of each song. Every contestant will sing one song in round one, and a second song if advanced to round two. See full contest rules at www.westmisports.com/sites/default/files/voicecontestrules.pdf.
Other WCHA Kickoff Party activities include:
- Live music by Grand Rapids cover band Great Scott
- Bull riding, hockey shoot-out and more games
- Jumbo television screens to watch March Madness basketball, complete with a "man cave" area
- Activities such as face painting, caricature drawing and a photo booth
- Food and drink concessions, including $15 meal deals for families of four and $2 drinks 6 - 7 p.m.
- 50:50 raffle and door prizes
- Chance to see the historic Broadmoor Trophy that will be awarded to the Final Five champion during the weekend tournament
The four fan hotels providing lodging during the WCHA Final Five Tournament – Holiday Inn Express North, Riverfront Hotel, SpringHill Suites North and Hampton Inn – will be running free shuttles from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. between their hotels and the Kickoff Party at the Deltaplex Arena.
"Grand Rapids is a great town for sports fans, and we are hopeful that those attending the WCHA Final Five, will arrive early to experience not only all the tournament-related festivities, but Grand Rapids itself," said Doug Small, president of Experience Grand Rapids. "Sports fans love watching tournaments in Grand Rapids not only because of our excellent sporting venues, but because of our walkable, safe and exciting downtown area, allowing for a memorable experience for fans and those participating."
More information about the WCHA Kickoff Party can be found at the event Facebook page.
About the WCHA Final Five Championship
The 2014 WCHA Final Five championship takes place March 21-22 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. The Final Five winner receives the Broadmoor Trophy and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Div. 1 Ice Hockey Championship tournament.
The schedule includes two semifinal match ups on Friday, March 21 at 2:07 pm and 7:07 pm ET, followed by the Broadmoor Trophy championship game on Saturday, March 22 at 7:07 pm ET. The field for the Final Five will consist of Ferris State, Minnesota State, Bowling Green and Alaska Anchorage.
On Saturday, March 22, fans can also take part in a host of activities centered around the championship. Free shuttles will be available to transport visitors staying at fan hotels to the arena. Activities include:
- High Performance Workshop hosted by USA Hockey for youth coaches, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Kent Room (second floor) of the Marriott Courtyard Downtown, 11 Monroe Ave.
- Pre-championship 'Sports Madness' indoor tailgating event, 2 – 6 p.m. at the B.O.B. (Big Old Building), across the street from Van Andel, featuring tailgating food, games, beverages, prizes and more.
- WCHA Youth Hockey Shootout Competition at Van Andel Arena
For a full schedule of WCHA Final Five tournament information, visit www.westmisports.com/wcha.
For other tournament-related and Grand Rapids visitor information, please visit:
- Western Collegiate Hockey Association and WCHA Final Five: http://wcha.com; WCHARoadtoVanAndelArena.com
- 2014 WCHA Final Five Fan Guide: http://wcha.com/men/tourney/index.php
- Van Andel Arena: http://vanandelarena.com
- Experience Grand Rapids: http://www.experiencegr.com.
- Deltaplex Arena (site of March 20 WCHA Kick-Off event): http://deltaplex.com
- Grand Rapids Area Hotel Reservations: https://aws.passkey.com/g/20157200
- The B.O.B.: http://www.thebob.com
About the West Michigan Sports Commission
The West Michigan Sports Commission, a non-profit 501 (c) (3), works to identify, secure and host a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to positively impact the economy and quality of life in the region. Since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked nearly 300 sporting events and tournaments that attracted 315,000 athletes and visitors, generating more than $100 million in direct visitor spending. Visit www.westmisports.com for more information.