The event is set for Saturday, February 9th at the Erie Basin Marina, and Labatt associate brand manager Lisa Texido explains the reason for the new one-day format.
"Shifting to one day will allow us to have the best chance to amend plans -- or to do make-up games on an additional day, should we face weather challenges, as we had in years past," Texido said in outling details during a Thursday morning news conference.
Organizers are also introducing a new system for choosing the teams due to the popularity of the event, they say.
"So, what we're doing for 2013 is we're now going to open registration during a two-week window. This will allow captains the time they need to get the full rosters together and sign up for a chance to play," Texido said.
Registration begins Friday, Nov. 16 and continues through the end of the month.
Team captains can sign up at the tournament website, and the teams will be chosen by lottery on December 7. The cost to register is $250 per team.
The following is a press release with more details about the event.
BUFFALO, NY – Labatt Blue beer today announced details for the sixth annual Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament. The 2013 Tournament will take place Saturday, February 9, 2013, from 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., at Erie Basin Marina. More than 650 players will compete across 12 divisions with seven player rosters.
“Over the past several years, we’ve dealt with everything from perfect weather to slush, snow, rain and even no ice at all. Through trial, we’ve gained a lot of experience and knowledge around weather factors, contingency plans and feasibility around what’s best for players, tournament organizers and city crews,” said Lisa Texido, associate brand manager, Labatt Blue. “Because the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament will always be at the mercy of the weather, shifting to a one-day tournament offers the best opportunity to deliver a great hockey experience for everyone involved.”
Players will hit the ice first thing Saturday morning and play under the lights well into Saturday night. Fans can watch the hockey action from the Erie Basin Marina lot overlooking the lake or enjoy cold Labatt Blue and listen to live music from a larger, heated tent.
Tournament organizers also are introducing a new team selection process this year. A new lottery system will randomly select teams. Beginning on Friday, November 16 through Friday, November 30, team captains can register their full team rosters for a chance to compete in the 2013 tournament.
All registrants will be divided into respective divisions based on skill level. Next, Labatt Blue will randomly draw teams in each division. A list of chosen teams will be announced on December 7. At that time, teams will have the opportunity to update their rosters, such as adding or changing players until January 15, 2013. The cost to register is $250 per team.
According to Texido, tournament officials reviewed player feedback around the tournament’s typical quick sell-out in deciding to change the registration process. “Every year, we hear from dozens of teams who want a shot to play on-ice in our tournament. We typically sellout within minutes and we know that can be frustrating to teams. This year, we opted to shift to a lottery system to give teams ample time register for a chance to compete in the 2013 games.”
Along with hockey, the tournament will feature a huge, heated beer tent, live music, a deejay, plenty of food and Labatt Blue beer.
Each year, Labatt Blue and tournament organizers take weather patterns and historical data into account when determining the best possible date for the tournament and related backup plans. Because the tournament needs between 10 and 12 inches of ice on Lake Erie for safe play, mid-February offers the best, most optimal weather for those ice conditions.
Because weather plays a continual factor, this tournament will always be in the hands of Mother Nature. Tournament officials note that this year’s contingency plans include the following:
· Sunday, February 10 is slated as a make-up day should weather on Saturday prevent safe hockey play or impact tournament games that day.
· If Lake Erie does not freeze, or the accumulated ice depth does not reach the 10-12 inches needed for safe hockey play at least one week prior to the event, the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament will be cancelled.
o If the tournament is cancelled prior to hockey play starting on Feb. 9, all teams will be refunded their $250 registration fee.
· In the event the pond hockey tournament is cancelled due to weather or lack of ice, tournament organizers will likely shift the event to a street hockey tournament, as they did in 2012.
o If that happens, teams who held a slot in the pond hockey tournament will have the right of first refusal to play street hockey. All teams who register to play in the tournament would be charged a $100 registration fee.
Now in its sixth year, the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament is recognized as one of the most unique and anticipated outdoor winter events in Western New York. “There’s something special about coming down to Buffalo’s waterfront in the dead of winter to cheer on your favorite team with a Blue in hand. We hope to see thousands of fans down at Erie Basin Marina on February 9 to celebrate the return of pond hockey in Western New York,” said Texido.
How to Register a Team
Beginning November 16 through November 30, teams can register for the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament at www.labattbluepondhockey.com. Full team rosters, including proof of age for all players, must be submitted upon registration. Teams will be divided into their respective divisions and then selected via random lottery draw. Players can find out if their team has been selected by checking the tournament website or the Labatt Blue US Facebook page on Friday, December 7. Once teams have been selected, a $250 registration fee will be due. For questions, team captains can contact Ed Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tournament Set Up and Team Format:
Ed Ellis returns as tournament director and will oversee team registration, referee recruitment, game scheduling and tournament day events.
· Players will skate on 10 man-made rinks, each 150’ long x 75’ deep, constructed using water, shovels, small plows and hay barrels.
· Players help maintain the ice with shovels and buckets of water, much like pick-up games on a neighborhood pond.
· Teams will be comprised of four to seven players, 21 years of age and older, who play a four-on-four format, absent a goalie.
· Nets are six inches high and six feet wide like the goals used in the Labatt Blue US Adult Pond Hockey Championships held in Eagle River, Wisconsin.
· Teams will compete in a round robin format in a specified division. The winner of each bracket will go on to play a championship game.
“At the heart of this tournament, Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey is about creating an authentic real hockey experience that brings players back to their roots,” said Texido.