Dozens of the best young hockey players from all over Western Canada and as far away as Russia are in Calgary this week for a top-level tournament.
The Mac's Midget AAA World Invitational Tournament is a 42-year-old tradition that gets underway each Boxing Day in Calgary — but after this year it will have a new name.
It's been called the Mac's Midget since 1978. But Hockey Canada is dropping terms like midget, peewee and atom next year, and replacing them with names descriptive of the ages of the players, from under-7 up to U21.
Tournament chair Larry Herbison, however, said that's not the direction organizers want to take.
"In other parts of the world it's called U18 ... but we want to be different because that's all part of the whole tradition of the Mac's tournament as well, is to be not like everybody else. We try to present something that's different," he said.
"So we probably will not go to the U18 — that's still up for discussion. But we do have some other ideas for what we'd like to call it. It definitely will be changed and we'll probably try and unveil that next year."
That's not the only change challenging the current name. Circle K recently assumed the Mac's brand in Alberta, but while the event is now presented by Circle K, organizers are keeping with the widely-known Mac's name.
"It's become one of the biggest traditions in Calgary and it's known all over the world," said Herbison.
A who's who of hockey super-stardom have played at the Mac's over the years on their way to the NHL — including Jarome Iginla, Sidney Crosby, Mike Vernon and Jonathan Toews.
This year's event features 25 teams from Western Canada as well as squads from Chicago and Tatarstan, Russia.
"The tournament basically gives the local teams around Alberta a gauge to how hockey is being played in other parts of the world," said Herbison.
The week-long tournament draws almost 100,000 spectators. NHL scouts also come to see the 15 to 18 year olds play.
"This is a stepping stone. We have scouts from, pretty much all the major teams are here," Herbison said.
Calgary Northstars forward Ethan Aucoin netted a hat trick including the game winner in his tournament debut.
"I've been dreaming about it since I was five years [old] … I've been wanting to play in this tournament. So, just all the excitement. And, finally here," he said.
Ty Toews of the Grande Peace Storm said it's probably one of the best tournaments in North America.
"So it's a pretty cool experience to be here. And it's only an invitational tournament, too, so it's very exciting to be here with some of the top teams in the world almost," he said.
"That's what this tournament is about too, is exposure. So it's pretty exciting to be here."
Round robin games take place at the Max Bell Centre as well as Father David Bauer Olympic Arena and Flames Community Arenas.
The tournament wraps up with the championship final at the Scotiabank Saddledome on New Year's Day.