This year’s Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament was bigger and better than last year. For the second year in a row, countless families, hockey fans and beer lovers trekked down to the Erie Basin Marina to witness sixty-four teams battle it out on 136,000 square feet of Lake Erie ice. When we arrived to the scene at 1pm, we were psyched to see the crowd along the water’s edge standing four to five deep. Even with all of the fans watching, we didn’t find it hard to get a decent view of the action, mainly because the crowd was in constant motion (between the games and the beer and food tents).
While viewing the action (and there was plenty everywhere we looked), I continued to overhear people asking why an event like this only comes once a year. It’s true. Rarely do we see people come together to experience an outdoor organized event such as the Labatt Pond Hockey tournament. Of course there are activities such as ice skating (Rotary Rink) and snow shoeing (Tifft Nature Preserve) to take up for those in search of spur of the moment social outdoor winter escapes, but what about the big stuff? What about the winter festivals and year ’round urban community draws?
There have been talks about spearheading another Winter Festival in Delaware Park – I always thought that that was a well-attended gathering. Others have dreamed of promoting a Winter Festival on Chippewa, from Johnson Park to Ellicott Street. And what about the Commercial Slip? It’s too bad that the Naval Museum isn’t temporarily positioned as a place to go for hot cocoa and coffee on the weekends – at least until those amenities are commonplace. Wouldn’t that be a natural surrounding for a series of winter festivals?
Thanks to Labatt, Buffalonians can learn to celebrate winter as other cities with similar climates do. Plus, just think of the great exposure for Labatt… I’m sure that the company is happy to see so many people rallying around a brand. As Pond Hockey grows bigger and bigger each year, it can only benefit the event founders.
Congratulations to Cozumel, the winning team (beating the Icemen 8 to 5). Here are the rest of the 8-rink placements:
Women’s: Advantage Attackers
Recreational Tier II: Rink Rats
Recreational Tier I: Crickett
Intermediate Tier II: Buffalo Old Boys
Intermediate Tier I: P11
Advanced Tier II: Mustangs
Advanced Tier I: Valore Books