The Chicago Blackhawks, in partnership with United Airlines and Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI), announce the creation of The Blackhawk Cup presented by United Airlines. The Blackhawk Cup will recognize the state hockey champions in all sixteen (16) USA Hockey/AHAI amateur youth divisions for both boys and girls (ages 7-18) in the state of Illinois. This program will impact over 23,000 participants as well as another 40,000 friends of AHAI (parents, coaches, administrators, etc.).

This commitment from United Airlines is designed to generate visibility and interest for youth hockey through increased funding for AHAI programs, as well as a complete promotional program to support friendly competition for The Blackhawks Cup presented by United Airlines.

“As far as we’re aware, this is the first partnership of its kind among any USA Hockey regional association,” stated Norm Spiegel, President of Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois. “Obviously, we are excited to associate ourselves with United Airlines. They are a strong corporate citizen, and their participation with the Blackhawk Cup will assist us in our continued development of hockey in Illinois. And as for the Blackhawks, we cannot say enough about their consistent support for our programs. They have helped us immensely in attracting new participants, as well as gaining visibility for amateur hockey throughout the state.”

With the explosion of hockey in the United States over the past five years, Illinois has seen a 97% growth in participation (11,850 in 1989-90 to 23,124 in 1996-97). This coincides with national increases in participation for roller hockey (43%) and ice hockey (29.2%) (NSGA 1995 survey). On the heels of the Team USA victory in the 1996 World Cup, as well as the upcoming 1998 Olympics, the game of hockey has never enjoyed such national popularity before in the United States.

“We are proud to be able to extend our association with the Chicago Blackhawks into this grassroots program. As the official airline of USA Hockey (the national governing body for hockey), United Airlines believes strongly in the opportunities that these programs provide to America’s youth,” stated Dick Veatch, manager of promotions and special events.

The Blackhawk Cup presented by United Airlines will provide a number of benefits to AHAI including;

An opportunity for Chicago Blackhawk Charities to increase funding for AHAI hockey programs leading to lower participation costs for new and existing members as well as improved coaching.

Creation of the Terry Beacom Trophy which recognizes the contribution of one individual making an exceptionally positive impact on AHAI athletes. The trophy is named after Mr. Terry Beacom who’s contributions over 30 years of association with AHAI were instrumental to the development of youth hockey in Illinois. Nominations will be solicited from all AHAI participants, coaches and parents and United Airlines will make a $1,000 donation to AHAI in the name of the winner.

Creation of the Blackhawks Man of the Year Trophy which recognizes the current Blackhawk player who shows a commitment to the devlopment of hockey in Illinois through personal service and donation of time. United Airlines will make a $1,00 donation to the Blackhawk Alumni Scholarship Fund in the name of the winner of this award.

All Blackhawk Cup champion teams will be the guest (over 400 kids) of United Airlines at the Blackhawks home game on April 11th (United Airlines Fan Appreciation Night).

As a supporter of AHAI for the past three years, the Chicago Blackhawks and their charitable arm, Blackhawk Charities, have been able to help grow hockey Illinois. “The Blackhawk Cup presented by United Airlines program is another way in which the Blackhawks can help AHAI develop interest in the game of hockey, as well as the infrastucture for coaching and friendly competition among the athletes,” states Peter R. Wirtz, Vice President of Marketing for th Chicago Blackhawks.

Current Blackhawk youth programs include:

  • Blackhawk Cup presented by United Airlines
  • Blackhawk Charities Holiday Hockey Tournament
  • NHL Breakout
  • StreetHawks sneaker hockey program

United is the leading airline of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport offering 434 daily departures to cities across the U.S. and around the world.