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Sixth annual Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament

I don’t think that anyone could have ever guessed the outcome of last year’s Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament. To think that the ice conditions at the Erie Basin Marina were not solid enough to support skaters, was almost unimaginable. Especially when we are reminded that six years ago the tournament was originally planned to be held on Hoyt Lake (Gala Water), but at the time the ice conditions were not suitable for tournament play.
As they say in show business, “The show must go on!” On Saturday, February 9, 2013, from 8:30 am to 9 pm, at the Erie Basin Marina, over 650 players will go skate-to-skate out on the ice (12 divisions with seven player rosters). “Over the past several years, we’ve dealt with everything from perfect weather to slush, snow, rain and even no ice at all. Through trial, we’ve gained a lot of experience and knowledge around weather factors, contingency plans and feasibility around what’s best for players, tournament organizers and city crews,” said Lisa Texido (photo), associate brand manager, Labatt Blue. “Because the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament will always be at the mercy of the weather, shifting to a one-day tournament offers the best opportunity to deliver a great hockey experience for everyone involved.”
As with previous years, fans will have the opportunity to watch the tournament from the parking lot next to Templeton Landing. If the weather outside is frightful (let’s hope that it’s frightfully cold), then there’s an opportunity for visitors to warm up in the large, heated beer tent along with a deejay and food. As for the players, this year the teams will be chosen according to lottery instead of rushing to be first to sign up. According to Texido, “Every year, we hear from dozens of teams who want a shot to play on-ice in our tournament. We typically sellout within minutes and we know that can be frustrating to teams. This year, we opted to shift to a lottery system to give teams ample time register for a chance to compete in the 2013 games.”
Let the games begin…
How to Register a Team
Beginning November 16 through November 30, teams can register for the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament at Full team rosters, including proof of age for all players, must be submitted upon registration. Teams will be divided into their respective divisions and then selected via random lottery draw. Players can find out if their team has been selected by checking the tournament website or the Labatt Blue US Facebook page on Friday, December 7. Once teams have been selected, a $250 registration fee will be due. For questions, team captains can contact Ed Ellis at
Tournament Set Up and Team Format:
Ed Ellis returns as tournament director and will oversee team registration, referee recruitment, game scheduling and tournament day events.
·         Players will skate on 10 man-made rinks, each 150′ long x 75′ deep, constructed using water, shovels, small plows and hay barrels.
·         Players help maintain the ice with shovels and buckets of water, much like pick-up games on a neighborhood pond.
·         Teams will be comprised of four to seven players, 21 years of age and older, who play a four-on-four format, absent a goalie.
·         Nets are six inches high and six feet wide like the goals used in the Labatt Blue US Adult Pond Hockey Championships held in Eagle River, Wisconsin.
·         Teams will compete in a round robin format in a specified division. The winner of each bracket will go on to play a championship game.
Contingency Plans:
Each year, Labatt Blue and tournament organizers take weather patterns and historical data into account when determining the best possible date for the tournament and related backup plans. Because the tournament needs between 10 and 12 inches of ice on Lake Erie for safe play, mid-February offers the best, most optimal weather for those ice conditions.
Because weather plays a continual factor, this tournament will always be in the hands of Mother Nature. Tournament officials note that this year’s contingency plans include the following:
·         Sunday, February 10 is slated as a make-up day should weather on Saturday prevent safe hockey play or impact tournament games that day.

·         If Lake Erie does not freeze, or the accumulated ice depth does not reach the 10-12 inches needed for safe hockey play at least one week prior to the event, the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament will be cancelled.

o    If the tournament is cancelled prior to hockey play starting on Feb. 9, all teams will be refunded their $250 registration fee.

·         In the event the pond hockey tournament is cancelled due to weather or lack of ice, tournament organizers will likely shift the event to a street hockey tournament, as they did in 2012.

o    If that happens, teams who held a slot in the pond hockey tournament will have the right of first refusal to play street hockey. All teams who register to play in the tournament would be charged a $100 registration fee.
Beginning on Friday, November 16 through Friday, November 30, team captains can register their full team rosters for a chance to compete in the 2013 tournament.
All registrants will be divided into respective divisions based on skill level. Next, Labatt Blue will randomly draw teams in each division. A list of chosen teams will be announced on December 7. At that time, teams will have the opportunity to update their rosters, such as adding or changing players until January 15, 2013. The cost to register is $250 per team.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is ‘queenseyes’ – Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world’s largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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  • JM

    This is a highlight of the winter, last year I was watching games and they did a contest to shoot the puck across the ice and score a goal and someone won, was very cool. Sucks the weather doesn’t cooperate but it’s fun either way.
    I really wish the faux canals were bigger to accommodate games but from the dimensions it doesn’t seem possible.
    And I personally don’t like the Powder keg and this at the same time, seems like all our eggs in 1 basket thing. Or stretch them both over a longer period. As it is now it’s a great weekend but then not much else the rest of the winter, I guess the double rinks will help add things to do but I still think they should focus on 1 event at a time instead of both at the same time. Ice or not it’s still cold and spending that much time outside can be tough.

  • Jay D

    Mayor Brown then announced that all the players will be locked out until his demands are met.

  • NorthBuf

    The contingency plan should be a water polo tournament in the lake.

  • JM

    ^btw I failed to mention they won a car.

  • LouisTully

    Having the Powder Keg and Pond tourney same weekend was awesome. One of the few times I’ve seen more pedestrians than cars with people walking between the events. As far as it being cold… it’s Buffalo. It’s kinda the idea of a winter festival.

  • ivan putski jr

    In that water?….yuck!

  • Harry Hood

    I think it’s bogus cutting it down to one day. It sounds like Corporate Blue is looking to cut costs for the event. This can be a major multi-day event which will bring thousands of hockey players to the area. It should be expanding, not shrinking. Also, the contingency plan of playing on the next day makes no sense – if there’s no ice on Saturday, do they really think that it will freeze overnight?
    This tournament has been a complete success. Why mess with it?
    BTW, the dude who won the car last year was none other than disgraced lawyer/convicted felon David Dale. How ’bout that?

  • JM

    If it has so many people then why not expand it? I feel there is almost too much too do in such a short time. Combine sloshing around, trying to find/meet friends, check out all the events Hockey snowboarding whatever in just a few hours is tough. I always feel like I’m missing stuff and I spend most of the weekend between both the last 3 years. Now if you actually get involved like play a game or volunteer you will most definitely miss out on a lot of stuff.
    The rest of the winter is dead, why not expand? I’d rather it always be happening down there than just 1 weekend. When I think festival i think more than a 2 Day event. Winterfest should be 2 weeks long, like Carnival de Quebec, or Montreals.

  • stumpjumper

    As someone who has played in the tournament twice — and is hoping to play again this year — I would say that scaling down to one day is a great idea. Playing one or two games on Saturday (or Friday), then another one or two on Sunday is pretty tough to coordinate. Having it all on one day keeps things simple.
    By the way, their new website looks great — and was nice to be able to register for the tournament (and my team roster) for the team lottery. I hope it was designed locally…