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Amerigol LATAM Cup Wraps Up Fifth Tournament in South Florida

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Team Caribbean celebrates after its 8-1 victory over Colombia in the Women’s Championship Game of the Amerigol LATAM Cup on Sunday at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

The fifth annual Amerigol LATAM Cup tournament came to a close Sunday evening at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs as fans enjoyed five days of international hockey all in the name of camaraderie, sportsmanship and inclusiveness.

When it was all over tourney winners ranged from Brazil at the under-14 level to Argentina in Men’s Division 1.

The complete recap can be found at the Amerigol website.

In the five days of the tournament, a total of 77 games were played on the three sheets of ice at the IceDen.

The mission of the Amerigold International Hockey Association is to provide hockey players in Latin America, the Caribbean and other non-traditional hockey markets around the world the opportunity to showcase their talent and raise awareness of hockey in their countries, while at the same time growing the game within these same communities in North America.

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When the tournament began in 2018 there were five teams and 95 players.

This year’s tournament featured more than 750 players from 21 countries on 33 teams in six divisions and once again had the full support of the NHL and NHLPA.

In addition to Latin American countries, there were teams representing Armenia, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel and HPOC (Hockey Players of Color).

The foreign visitors were supplemented by local players with roots in those countries.

Amerigol president Juan Carlos Otero couldn’t help but beam at the excitement generated by the tournament.

He called it “dreams come true” for many participants, who never had the benefit of a first-class rink on which to play.

Otero’s vision is to see some of these athletes playing college hockey, even if only at the club level.

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Florida Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg pals around with a couple of players from Egypt at the Amerigol LATAM Cup at the IceDen in Coral Springs on Saturday. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

“It’s all part of the ultimate goal to seeing a player down the line from Latin America that’s a first-generation Latino playing in the NHL,” he said.

Once again, the Florida Panthers were one of the major sponsors.

“We’re out here celebrating teams from all over the world coming out here and really get to see hockey in markets that you traditionally don’t really see hockey coming from,’’ said John Colombo, the VP of the Florida Panthers Foundation & Community Relations.

“I think it’s unbelievable. It’s taking on a life of its own and it’s been a really cool experience from our end to go from a small tournament with a few guys playing from local rinks to people flying in — coming from different parts of the country as well as coming from different countries themselves, spending the week here getting the experience of getting to play a traditional hockey tournament that they wouldn’t find in another country.”

When it was all over, Otero was already thinking ahead indicating there is so much enthusiasm outside of Latin America that he expects several additional European teams next year.

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