The registration period for the 2013 Labatt Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament is open and continues until the end of the month. Teams for this year's event will be chosen through a lottery system.
The event sponsor knows the tournament is at the mercy of the weather. Lisa Texido, associate brand manager at Labatt Blue, says they'll move the action to that Sunday, Feb. 10, if the weather becomes a problem.
"... where we can't play on Saturday, or we can't play all games on Saturday," Texido said.
The pond-hockey tournament needs about a foot of ice for safe hockey play, she said. And, if not, Labatt has a plan-B, similar to last season, ready to go.
"If we cancel pond hockey, we will most likely shift to street hockey as we did this year," Texido said.
In that case, teams that hold a spot in the pond tournament, will have the right of first refusal for the street event -- and would pay a registration fee of $100 to get involved.
Labatt Blue issued the following press release about its plans:
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.
“I am always excited to celebrate winter in Buffalo and the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament has become a popular winter tradition,” said Mayor Byron Brown. “I’d like to thank Labatt Blue for its continued commitment to downtown Buffalo, and encourage city residents and visitors to attend this great event that attracts thousands of hockey players and spectators to the Buffalo waterfront each winter.”
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 email@example.com.
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.