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William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey blog since 2012. Douglas joined in 2019 and writes about people of color in the sport. Today, he profiles the Dallas Stars hosting youth hockey teams from Mexico that will play in the Dallas National Qualifier of the International Silver Stick tournament for the first time.

The Dallas Stars will host seven youth teams from Mexico this weekend, giving them an opportunity to play in a venerable international hockey tournament for the first time.

The five boys' and two girls' teams are competing in the Dallas National Qualifier of the International Silver Stick. The 65-year-old tournament features some of the best Under-10 to Under-18 teams from the United States and Canada.

The Mexican squads are among more than 60 teams that will play Friday through Sunday at eight facilities owned and operated by the Stars in the Dallas metropolitan area.

Mexico City LTP 1

Dallas qualifier winners advance to face other regional champions from across the U.S. and Canada in International Finals in Sarnia, Ontario (Jan. 12-14 for 10U and 18U AA boys and Jan. 5-7 for 12U girls), Port Huron, Michigan (Jan. 25-28 for 12U and 14U AA boys), Newmarket, Ontario (Jan. 25-28 for 16U boys) and Aurora, Ontario (Feb. 2-4 for 14U A girls).

Mexico Ice Hockey Federation president Joaquin de la Garma pitched the idea of entering teams in the Dallas qualifier to Stars officials, and they enthusiastically concurred, he said.

“It will all be a great experience for our players,” de la Garma said. “And we’ll see, maybe we won't win any games, we know that. We are aware of our level. But it will be very interesting to play against the other teams, to have the experience. Our players will learn a lot, for sure.”

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Dwight Mullins, Dallas' director of hockey development, said Mexico’s participation in the Silver Stick is the result of the deepening relationship between the Stars and the Mexican hockey federation.

“Basically, the fact that we have this amount of teams coming and they have this kind of presence really culminated because of the outreach efforts that we worked with the NHL, NHL Learn to Play and the NHL/National Hockey League Players’ Association’s International Growth Fund has allowed to do things in Mexico to create this kind of relationship,” said Mullins, a retired forward who was selected by the Minnesota North Stars in the fifth round (No. 90) of the 1985 NHL Draft but never played in the League.

Silver Stick organizers said they’re excited about having Mexican teams at the tournament for the first time because it reflects the tournament’s mission of fostering inclusion and international goodwill through hockey.

“It all comes back to what we feel about diversity and inclusion,” said Scott McDowell, Silver Stick’s international director for the Dallas and Las Vegas regionals and a former commissioner. “International Silver Stick is an opportunity for us to offer our friends from Mexico the opportunity to participate in the tournament and then, hopefully, allow them to advance to our finals in which they would compete against the best teams in America and Canada.”

More than 100 Mexican players and coaches will take a break from competition Saturday to be guests of the Stars when they host the Vegas Golden Knights at American Airlines Center (4 p.m. ET; SCRIPPS, BSSW, TVAS-D).

“I think it’s massive for Mexican ice hockey players,” said Al Montoya, the Stars’ director of community outreach who was the first Cuban American player in the NHL when he debuted in goal for the Phoenix Coyotes against the Colorado Avalanche on April 1, 2009. “It’s showing how much the Mexican hockey federation is growing and our participation is growing. The fact that they’re able to travel with seven teams and they don’t have to go to Canada or go up north, it’s wonderful.”

It's also all part of the Stars wooing Mexican fans to the sport. Dallas believes the country is part of the geographic fan territory that includes areas like Austin and Houston, Texas, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and Shreveport, Louisiana.

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Dallas conducted Learn to Play Clinics in Mexico City in 2019 and plan to hold more sessions there in 2024. Team officials visited Mexico City in October 2022 and toured Mexico City Arena.

The Stars, Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes are among the teams that would like to have an NHL game played in Mexico City.

“Our task is to have the Dallas Stars to be adopted as Mexico’s team,” Mullins said. “We want to do everything in our power to send these seven teams home from the Silver Stick being Dallas Stars fans.”