It’s been very cold this winter, and that’s good news for some folks, for low temperatures mean frozen lakes and ponds, and where there is ice, there will be hockey! Right now in Meredith, NH, crews from the New England Pond Hockey Classic are preparing rinks on the solid surface of Lake Winnipesaukee in anticipation of next weekend’s annual tournament!
The first New England Pond Hockey Classic took place in February of 2010, with 77 teams playing old-style hockey in pursuit of the coveted “WinnipeHockey Cup.” Since then the NEPHC has become one of the most sought after pond hockey tournaments in the country, with teams flying from all over North America to compete on beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee.
Now in its sixth year, the NEPHC is bigger and more popular than ever, with the event sold out at 250 teams that will compete in the 4 v 4 round-robin tournament on 24 classic rinks next weekend, January 30th – February 1st, 2015. There will be over 550 games over the course of the weekend on Meredith Bay, with teams organized into 8 sub-divisions, including the Open Division, 30-plus, 40-plus, 50-plus, the Women’s Division, two just-for-fun divisions called Shinny and Shinny 35-plus, and the newest “Twig” Division, a recreational division for players who live for the pond but might not have the ability to hang with the former professional and college players in the Open and Shinny Divisions.
The weekend kicks off on Thursday, January 29th with a Welcome Party and Skills Competition on the ice in front of Lago at Bay Point, in conjunction with the tournament’s check in at The Flagship Ballroom at Chase House. Players from the Lakes Region Youth Hockey organization will be on site selling raffle tickets for a chance to win a heated VIP locker room for the tournament. A giant tent and Meadowbrook stage will be set up in the parking lot at Bay Point, where The Common Man will host a Concession & Labatt Blue Beer Garden in the Old Time Hockey Tournament Village, with live entertainment all weekend. A shuttle service will transport players and spectators to and from the event’s parking lots at Hart’s Turkey Farm, just a couple miles away from Tournament Village.
Pond hockey athletes are encouraged to bring their previously used equipment to donate to Restore Hockey, the tournament’s official non-profit sponsor. Restore Hockey cleans and restores the equipment and donates it to children, families, and organizations in need. Says Scott Crowder, organizer of the NEPHC, “All this stuff that would normally end up in a landfill is ending up on the ice… and a child gets a chance to fall in love with the game.” Restore Hockey also gladly accepts financial donations, which help the organization purchase new equipment for the community. The Pond Hockey Classic is proud to partner with this great organization.
The New England Pond Hockey Classic has quickly earned a reputation for providing players and fans alike with a traditional, nostalgic, and competitive pond hockey experience. For more information about the New England Pond Hockey Classic or Restore Hockey, please visit the NEPHC website at www.pondhockeyclassic.com. To book your weekend in Meredith, call Mill Falls at the Lake at 800-622-6455.
For additional information on Meredith and some of the great events happening around the Lakes Region, visit www.meredithareachamber.com and www.lakesregion.org. And don’t forget to stop by the Mill Falls at the Lake website, too, at www.millfalls.com.
Here’s to a great Pond Hockey weekend! Good luck to the NEPHC teams!
The Mill Falls Blogging Team