The Western Canada Pond Hockey Championship showcased what Chestermere as a community has to offer.
From Dec. 27 until Dec. 29, 600 players on 61 teams played hockey in support of the Veterans Food Bank of Calgary, the Children’s Cottage Society, and Synergy.
“Totals raised we’re going to be around $50,000 but we don’t know our costs yet,” said Western Canada Pond Hockey Championship Organizer Alex Halat.
“Overall, we are so happy with the event, it surpassed everything we expected to do,” Halat said.
Not only did the three-day tournament raise funds for organizations, but it also brought the community closer together, Halat said.
“At the end of the day, people were losing by 30 goals and still having a good time, no one was upset because they lost.
“Not one part of it was about winning,” he said.
While the focus was on fun and not the scores, trophy’s were given out to the winners of each division.
The Chestermere Stars, Zambroni’s, Slough Crew 5.0, and Star Valley won in the Tyke, Novice A, Bantam A, and Adult B divisions respectfully.
Although the championship received overwhelming support, Halat is currently sifting through hundreds of messages regarding the event, residents have also had recommendations on how to make next year better.
“The one thing was being careful in terms of mixing the caliber of divisions. Part of it is we don’t know everybody in the tournament, we don’t know their caliber, we’ll learn next year in terms of placing people in the right divisions,” Halat said.
He added, a team that has been playing for 10 years, shouldn’t be playing against a team that is just learning.
“Everything that people send us we’re going to take into consideration and apply it to make next year even better,” he said.
Throughout the tournament, scheduling ice maintenance in-between games was a constant challenge. Large breaks in the ice were seen, caused in part by having roughly 4,000 people standing on the frozen surface of the lake.
“We figured it out on the last night, we have the lake at our disposal, we might as well use the lake water next time, it’s faster for us, and more efficient,” Halat said.
He added, lake water was dumped onto the ice instead of using a Zamboni.
“At the end of the day it’s not the Olympics, we don’t need a clean sheet of ice, we just need ice.
“With any pond hockey game, there are going to be a little bit of bumps, and players expect it,” Halat said.
“In terms of everything else, it went smooth. For the most part we kept it simple, and we’ll keep it simple next year, and just tweak a few things,” he added.
Halat said a highlight for him was having past teammates reaching out saying they saw the championship on Social Media.
“We’ve really reached out to the masses in terms of what we’ve created,” he said.
Halat hopes next year’s championship will bring 75 teams from across Canada, instead of only western Canada and Montana.
Currently, Halat is planning next year’s championship, and is looking forward to seeing hockey lovers out on the ice once again.
Halat added, “Thank you to the community, everyone came out and was welcoming to all of our guests, which is awesome, it’s what we wanted.”