HARTFORD, CT: - Approximately 1,500 female ice hockey players from all over the U.S. and Canada are coming to Connecticut for the nation's largest youth ice hockey tournament (girls or boys), reports the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTCSB).

On Tuesday, Dec. 27 through Friday, Dec. 30, the Connecticut Polar Bears will host its "29th Annual Holiday Tournament" at eight ice rinks in four Connecticut locations: Champions Skating Center in Cromwell; Northford Ice Pavilion in Northford; Mays Rink in the Odden Hockey Arena at The Taft School in Watertown; and the Sports Center of Connecticut in Shelton.

"Female ice hockey is extremely popular at both the youth and college level, even in parts of the country which traditionally are not known for ice sports," says Maurice FitzMaurice, a Wethersfield resident who has been the Tournament Director since the event's first year in 1990. "Athletes are coming from as far as way as Alaska, Washington State, Florida Texas, and Ontario, Canada."

The invitational tournament will feature close to 95 hockey teams with players, ages 8 to 19. There will be 225 games during 3½ days from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., with as many as eight games being played at any one time.

"This event is a terrific holiday gift for 27 hotels in Connecticut and is expected to generate more than $2.1 million in new dollars for our state," explains Michael Van Parys, President of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau), which works with tournament organizers on this major event. "The positive economic impact of more than 2,500 overnight rooms, during what is a traditionally slow period for many hotels, extends to the restaurants and attractions that the players, their families and tournament officials will enjoy during their holiday stay here."

Given the size of the tournament and the strength of the field, most major U.S. college programs and many Canadian colleges will be represented at the tournament. Most college coaches designate this tournament as a primary recruiting site. In addition, coaches from many of the eastern prep schools recruit here.

The Connecticut Polar Bears' Holiday Tournament is coordinated under the auspices of USA Hockey and the Canadian Amateur Hockey Associations. There are five age divisions and three levels of ability for most of the ages. The spectator fee is $20 and this pass is good for all locations and the entire tournament; free for children under age 12. For a full schedule of games and more information, visit www.ctpolarbears.com.

The Connecticut Convention & Visitors Bureau (CTCSB) works in partnership with the state's businesses, institutions, nonprofit organizations, and surrounding communities to market all of Connecticut - all convention and meeting venues, hotels and attractions, and sporting venues - as a premier destination for international, national, regional and statewide conventions. The Connecticut Sports Convention Advisory Board, a division of the CTCSB, focuses its efforts on attracting and serving international, national and regional sporting events. For more information, visit www.ctmeetings.org or call (860) 728-6789.