“It was our first year, and we couldn’t have asked for a better response,” said Scott Crowder, organizer of the New England Pond Hockey Classic (NEPHC), “From the participants, to the sponsors, to the town of Meredith — and obviously the weather… the entire weekend went off without a hitch.”
Nearly 500 players and 77 teams turned out for the first annual NEPHC tournament on Lake Winnipesaukee in Meredith, NH on the weekend of February 5th – 7th. With “baby blue skies and beautiful sunshine,” five divisions competed on 7 rinks simultaneously over the course of the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, five teams raised Lake WinnipeHockey’s Cup above their heads: ?in the Open Division – The Paddy’s from Lexington, MA, ?in the 30+ Division – The Frozen Hacks from Franklin, MA,?in the 40+ Division – The Bumbles from Alton, NH, in the Legends Division – The Bud Heavies from Newburyport, MA, and ?in the Just for Fun Division – Montreal Todd from Woburn, MA.
“As this event goes forward, we would like to start expanding by at least being able to accommodate the 40 additional teams we had to wait-list this year,” said Crowder. “That would already bring us up to 120 teams, which, for only being in our second year of operation, would be incredible.” Crowder also has plans to add a women’s division to next year’s event. He estimates that there will be 12 – 13 rinks on the bay, and close to another 500 participants coming to the area for the weekend of February 4th – 6th, 2011. Crowder said he would like to have a youth tournament, as well, adding, “If we could get more kids out there playing, they’re going to fall in love with the sport of hockey.”
Since the tournament, Crowder has been receiving e-mails from folks in Meredith saying how nice it is to drive by the rinks and see people out there using them. “They said that for whatever reason before, kids wouldn’t go out on the lake and skate,” said Crowder. “Hopefully this will help the community and all the kids, have them start to play hockey, cause it’s such a fun sport.”
The purpose of the event was to “bring hockey back to the basics,” Crowder said. “The competition was very healthy, we didn’t have any fights, or anything of that nature. Everyone was able to have a good time. It was nice to see something that we put together help out the local businesses and give the hockey community of the region something to come out for. That was extremely positive.”
Crowder is “very thankful for the town of Meredith… for all of our sponsors—they were huge in helping us pull this off. Also the volunteers – a special thanks to them.” He says that next year’s tournament is going to be even bigger, and they will definitely need more “passionate volunteers, the people who want to come out and have some fun helping us out.”
So mark your calendars for next year, and hopefully we’ll see you out on the ice!