I can barely imagine Buffalo without the Labatt Pond Hockey Tournament. It seems like just yesterday when they announced that the tourney was going to be held on Gala Waters (Hoyt Lake). Then it was moved to the Erie Basin Marina where it has grown in number of teams and fans. Now in its fifth year, the pond hockey tourney is once again gaining momentum. This winter season, from February 10-12, there will be 20 additional teams added, and for the first time there will be games played at night under the lights. Another advancement is the size of the team – instead of six players, teams may now opt to field seven players. That means that the 144 teams will boast a total number of more than 1000 players – another great boost for downtown and the waterfront.
According to Labatt Blue Brand Manager Brett Carlsen, “Every year, we look at how we can make the experience better. Increasing teams and roster size, combined with night-time pond hockey under the lights allows more die-hard players to participate and also creates a cool atmosphere for fans, looking for something to do on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Pond hockey specs:
-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.
How to Enter a Team:
Beginning November 27 at 12 p.m., teams can register for the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament on a first-come, first-serve basis at: www.labattbluepondhockey.com. The registration fee is $250 and players must present proof of age (21 and over). Teams are encouraged to register early because an early sellout is anticipated. For questions, team captains can contact Ed Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a fan of the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament at: labattfacebook. Fans receive updates and information on rink construction, schedules, weather conditions, etc.
The Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament is subject to weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather or unplayable ice, the tournament will be cancelled and players will receive a full refund. The tournament games will not be rescheduled.
*Team registration opens on Sunday, November 27 at noon to give teams more time to plan. Registration is done on a first come, first serve basis so Labatt Blue officials recommend entering your team early. Last year’s tournament sold out in just a couple hours. The cost to register remains $250 per team, despite the boost in players allowed on the roster.
Photo: (From left to right) Brett Carlsen, associate brand manager of Labatt Blue, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Commissioner Steve Stepniak and Don Poleto, head engineer, Department of Public Works.