The second annual New England Pond Hockey Classic is about to take over Meredith Bay, and this year the tournament will be even bigger and better! The organization’s first ever event last year was so successful, it’s grown to accommodate over twice as many teams and rinks out on the frozen waters of Lake Winnipesaukee, as well as a couple of new tournaments in New England.
“The response we had last year was amazing,” says PHC director Scott Crowder. “That our first year went as well as it did was pretty great on our end. So we obviously wanted to bring it back and we actually expanded it, so we have two more tournaments this year, one on Lake Champlain in Colchester VT and one with the Manchester Monarchs in Manchester. The tournament here in Meredith is going to have over 160 teams, and we’ll have 15 to 16 rinks out on the lake, so that’s close to 1000 participants.”
As a new feature this year, the player locker room tents will be out on the ice so the athletes can skate in and skate out. Another fun addition will be the beer garden that The Common Man is doing right in front of Lago. “We’re doing a little Fan Zone with some hockey skills competition, and things like that,” says Crowder. “It’s really turning into more of a carnival! We’re going to have the ReMax hot air balloon giving rides, we’ll do helicopter rides again, which is what we did last year, the Greater Meredith Program is doing a chili cook-off on Saturday afternoon… to have something that’s a nice outdoor activity that people can enjoy in the middle of winter is a nice treat.”
Last February, 77 teams from throughout the region competed over a three day weekend on Lake Winnipesaukee. The event brought many athletes and fans to Meredith and earned PHC the 2010 Lakes Region Association Tourism Award. “We’ve had a great response from local businesses this year,” says Crowder. “We have a lot of local sponsors on board, and you can find them all on our website. To have the support of the local businesses is great.”
The official outfitter and sponsor of this year’s event is Earthtec, a Portsmouth, NH based company that makes eco-friendly apparel. Says Crowder, “They’re absolutely amazing. The CEO of Earthtec actually played in the tournament last year… they’re our official apparel for all of our events. They make all of their stuff out of recycled materials or organic cotton and wool, so their products are top-notch, top of the line.” All tournament participants will have the opportunity to buy official merchandise provided by Earthtec, and each participant will receive a free Earthtec Pond Hockey Classic winter hat.
With Earthtec, PHC is launching Pond Hockey Classic Green, “to do our part to curb our environmental impact,” says Crowder. “If this Earth keeps heating up we’re not going to have any ice to do these tournaments on.” PHC is also partnering with Athletes for a Fit Planet, a company that greens events by working with organizers to reduce their event’s environmental footprint with consulting services and sustainability practices, such as the opportunity for all PHC participants to buy carbon offsets to counteract their travel to and from the event. All registration is taking place online, so there are no paper forms to mail, store, and dispose of later.
Pond hockey athletes are also encouraged to bring their previously used equipment to donate to Restore Hockey, the tournament’s official non-profit partner. Restore Hockey recycles the equipment and donates it back to children who don’t have the ability to play the sport due to the financial burden.
Crowder hopes that after the big weekend, local folks will continue to use and enjoy some of the rinks that they are creating. “That’s what happened last year, which was great. I drove by a couple weeks after and I had never seen kids skating out there, and all of a sudden there were families out there on Saturday and Sunday afternoon that were using the rinks because we made them, so hopefully this event can urge people to play some hockey in the Lakes Region, because I don’t think it’s as big a sport as it really could be.”
The 2nd Annual Pond Hockey Classic Tournament will take place February 4th through 6th, 2011, in Meredith, NH. For those who can’t make it to see all the excitement in person, the event will be broadcast on the official website, pondhockeyclassic.tv, where viewers can watch live streaming action as well as replays of past games. Mark your calendars, and don’t forget to check in!
The Mill Falls Blogging Team
Images courtesy of Pond Hockey Classic