Buffalo, NY (WBEN) When the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament faces off in a couple of months, organizers hope a new location will get all the games in.
The event is now being held at 333 Ganson Street, where 120 teams will descend on refrigerated ice rinks for two full days of pond hockey play, Feb. 21-22, 2014. More than 800 pond hockey players will compete across 10 divisions with seven player rosters.
For the first time ever, Labatt is offering all teams who registered for the 2013 tournament the “right of first refusal” to secure a spot in the 2014 games since only a small percentage of last year’s tournament was completed.
“More than any other year, the weather challenges in 2013 prevented the majority of registered teams from ever getting out on the ice,” said Lisa Texido, brand manager, Labatt. “Therefore, we’re offering each of those 96 teams a slot in the 2014 tournament. We hope the players who couldn’t skate last year will return and have a great Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey experience this February.”
The 96 registered teams from 2013 interested in competing in the 2014 tournament must reserve their spot by registering online at www.labattbluepondhockey.com, between Dec. 20 at noon and December 28 at noon. Team captains must submit their full team rosters and $250 registration fee at that time.
All remaining tournament slots will open to the public for registration on December 28, 2013 at noon through January 4, 2014 at noon. Full team rosters, including proof of age for all players, must be submitted upon registration. Teams will then be divided into their respective divisions and selected via random lottery draw. Players can find out if their team has been selected by checking the tournament website on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. Once teams have been selected, a $250 registration fee will be due by Jan. 15.
Spectators and fans also can expect great views of the hockey action, a deejay, music, plenty of food and Labatt Blue. Over the past several months, Labatt focused its efforts on identifying a near weather-proof option to host the tournament games outdoors in downtown Buffalo. Shifting from a weather-dependent Erie Basin Marina to an outdoor refrigerated ice rink environment at the Ganson Street location on the Buffalo River was key.
“One of our biggest goals during the off-season was to find a way to keep Labatt pond hockey going in our hometown with a solution for the weather challenges we’ve had,” said Texido. “This new location on Ganson Street will provide hundreds of players a hockey experience outside, in the middle of winter. We can’t wait to see the players skating this February.”