Meredith Bay plays host to first annual Pond Hockey Classic
|Teams take to the ice during the first New England Pond Hockey Classic. Erin Plummer. (click for larger version)|
February 10, 2010MEREDITH — The rinks were built and the hockey players flocked out for the first annual New England Pond Hockey Classic.
Around 77 teams from across New England and the country gathered in front of the Inn at Bay Point Friday through Sunday for the first in what is proposed to be a series of annual tournaments.
The tournament was started by former UMass Amherst hockey player Scott Crowder.
Nashua-native Crowder is the son of former Bruins player and college hockey coach Bruce Crowder and said he played hockey with his brothers growing up.
Crowder said there are numerous pond hockey leagues in hockey hotbeds such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Canada, but there were none for the New England area, which is considered another major area for hockey.
Crowder summers on Bear Island, which drew his attention toward having the tournament in Meredith Bay.
Crowder received the go-ahead from the town for the tournament and said the town manager was at the scene on Friday.
The Pond Hockey Classic brought 77 teams from across New England and teams from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Golden, Colo.
Crowder said all the teams are self-formed and to sign up to play.
Friday was the first official day of the tournament with teams going against each other in their divisions that day and Saturday to determine who would go into the playoffs on Sunday.
Rinks were set up on the ice in front of the Inn at Bay Point for multiple games to be played at once. Players could get their gear on in a "locker room" tent and go into Bay Point for drinks and refreshments.
After each day of games, the rinks are flooded with water to refreeze and they are resurfaced.
Winners from all five divisions had their initials on the Lake Winnipehockey Cup, a replica of the Stanley Cup carved from wood courtesy of New Hampshire Interiors. Each winning team also received a large team trophy and individual trophies for the players.
At closing ceremonies on Sunday, trophies went to Paddy's Pub out of Cambridge, Mass., in the Open Division; The Frozen Hacks from Franklin, Mass., won in the 30+ Division; the Lakes Region-based Bumbles won in the 40+ Division; the Bud Heavies from Newburyport, Mass., won the Legends Division; and Montreal Todd from Woburn, Mass. took the trophy for the Just for Fun Division.
The weekend also saw a charity game featuring NHL legends, including former Bruins players Steve Leach and Bobby Carpenter.
One rink was open for public skating and all seven rinks will be available for other purposes after the game is over.
Bruce Crowder said the tournament was all his son's work, with him providing technical consultation.
"For the most part his decisions that came to me were pretty good and well-rounded," he said.
He also helped get Leach and Carpenter to the event, who all have connections with Lake Winnipesaukee.
"It was good to the guys to come out and support the lake community."
The event was a proud moment for the Crowders.
"Lucy and I are just proud as proud can be for parents," Bruce Crowder said. "The big thing you want to do is look at the smiles on the faces of the people leaving the ice."
Scott Crowder said he wants to bring the game back next year.
"Everything went off without a hitch," he said.
The classic supported Restore Hockey, the Special Olympics of New Hampshire, Lakes Region Youth Hockey Association, and the Greater Meredith Program.
Crowder said the event gained attention for the four organizations as well as Meredith in general.
"It's going to be bigger and better next year," Crowder said. "We're going to bring more people here."
Crowder also said he wants to bring live music and smaller changes to the tents and set-up. Otherwise no other major changes were needed and the event had no significant issues, "which was absolutely amazing. Couldn't be any happier."
For more information on the New England Pond Hockey Classic, visit www.pondhockeyclassic.com.