KENNETT SQUARE – Upland Country Day School recently hosted its 43rd annual Upland Invitational Ice Hockey Tournament at the John M. Cleveland Rink on the school’s campus in Kennett Square.
Beginning in 1974, the Upland tournament is the longest running junior school ice hockey tournament in North America, and is believed to be the longest running junior school tournament in any sport. Upland families hosted more than 75 players from highly competitive Connecticut schools during the weekend.
Teams competing this year were Upland County Day School (Kennett Square, PA); Greenwich Country Day School (Greenwich, CT); New Canaan Country School (New Canaan, CT); The Rectory School (Pomfret, CT); and The Rumsey Hall School (Washington Depot, CT). Rumsey Hall took first place in the tournament, with Greenwich Country Day and Upland Country Day earning second and third respectively.
The first Upland Country Day School Invitational Ice Hockey Tournament was held on Dec. 21-22, 1974, and was founded by Dr. John M. Cleveland, the founder of Upland ice hockey, varsity ice hockey coach from 1964-1981, and Upland’s headmaster from 1964-1985.
In the first tournament, Upland hosted Greenwich Country Day School, a fellow junior school, and three club hockey teams. Since then, 20 different teams have competed in the tournament.
This weekend, Jan. 28 and 29, Upland is hosting the 19th Annual Girls’ Invitational Tournament hosting teams from Connecticut and Lansdale Catholic School locally.
“Upland is proud to maintain this longstanding tradition of bringing together competitive teams with similar approaches to developing student athletes,” said Andrew Morris, Upland athletic director and International program director. “For the participants, this annual event provides for a fun, competitive and memorable experience.”
Tournament alumni frequently dot the rosters of the extremely competitive school programs in North America, as well as NCAA programs. Tournament alumni have gone on to play at Phillips Academy (Andover), Phillips Exeter Academy, The Lawrenceville School, The Hill School, The Taft School, Choate-Rosemary Hall, Hotchkiss School and St. George’s School among others.
Tournament participants have gone on to play NCAA ice hockey at programs such as Harvard University, Yale University, Dartmouth College, Brown University, Amherst College, St. Lawrence University, the University of Maine, Connecticut College, Bowdoin College, Hobart College, Tufts University and Colby College.
The most notable tournament alumnus is former Olympian and New York Ranger Mike Richter. Richter competed as a member of the Wissahickon Skating Club team in 1980 and 1981, and was named to the All-Tournament team in 1981. Richter later went on to star at the Northwood School and the University of Wisconsin before embarking on a stellar career with the New York Rangers, winning the Stanley Cup in 1994 and the World Cup of Hockey with Team USA in 1996.
Another notable tournament alumnus is Niklas Lucenius, a 2005 graduate of Upland Country Day School, who was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers in the fourth round of the 2007 National Hockey League draft.
Upland boasts the only on-campus ice rink in Chester County, and in the mid-Atlantic region. Only The Hill School, The Lawrenceville School and Princeton Day School have supported a scholastic ice hockey programs as long as Upland has.