Do you remember, over a decade ago, when the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament was set to be held out on the ice along Erie Basin Marina? But the lake didn’t freeze, so it ended up being a street hockey tournament. That same scenario happened year after year, where it was not cold enough for any natural water source to freeze properly. It was the running joke that Buffalo was not cold enough in the winter to support ice hockey.
Eventually, RiverWorks opened. I recall the first year that the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament was held there. People didn’t think that it would be open in time. Well, the place opened, but it was certainly not finished. But that partnership between Labatt Blue and RiverWorks sealed the deal for an optimal pond hockey setting for years to come.
“The Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey tournament has been a celebration in this city for over a decade,” said Lauren Christopher associate public relations manager, Labatt Blue. “This year will be no different with exciting hockey play, Sabres alumni appearances, fan experiences, music, games and of course Labatt Blue. We’re proud to bring such a unique and popular event to life in our hometown each year.”
This year, 850 “pond hockey” players (130 teams of four to seven players) will participate in the tournament.
“The Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament is one of our very favorite events,” said Sean Green, director of athletics and sponsorship, Buffalo RiverWorks. “This is our sixth year of hosting the tournament and it’s really become a beloved tradition in Buffalo. We are excited to welcome players and spectators back again this year to enjoy a thrilling weekend!”
Labatt Blue announced the tournament details earlier today.
A skills competition will be held on Thursday, February 14 – The event will begin at 6 p.m. and players will compete in areas such as shootouts, fastest slapshot, skating and more!
Game play running from Friday, February 15 to Sunday, February 17.
- Labatt Blue Zone: Featuring games, entertainment and Labatt Blue giveaways
- Live Music: Battle of the Bands including Jessika Schreiber Duo, Tim Britt, Roadtrip and Skyline.
- Sabres Game Viewing and Sabres Alumni Appearances: Buffalo Sabres vs. New York Rangers Friday at 7 p.m. and Buffalo Sabres vs. New Jersey Devils Sunday at 6 p.m.
- Games and Activities: #CellyOn photo booth, Labatt Blue silo tower tours inside RiverWorks Brewery, urban ropes course, Vendor Village and event merchandise for purchase.
Game Schedule and Competition:
Following Thursday’s skills competition from 6 to 9 p.m., players will compete across 17 divisions, with both men’s and women’s divisions. Game play runs:
- Friday, February 15 from 1 to 8 p.m.
- Saturday, February 16 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Sunday February 17 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A full game schedule is available at www.LabattBluePondHockey.com/buffalopond.
Around 850 novice, intermediate, advanced and elite level hockey players make up the teams, with rosters ranging from four to seven players, 21 years of age and older. Teams play a four-on-four format, absent a goalie. Teams play a minimum of three round-robin games. The winners will be named tournament champions in their respective divisions.
Buffalo RiverWorks entertainment complex | 359 Ganson Street | Buffalo, NY 14203
Lead image courtesy Labatt Blue