Chestermere’s first annual pond hockey tournament brought out thousands of hockey lovers while supporting local organizations.
From Dec. 27 until Dec. 29 Chestermere Lake was covered with athletes playing pond hockey at the inaugural Western Canada Pond Hockey Championship to support the Veterans Food Bank of Calgary, Children’s Cottage Society, and Synergy.
“We’re learning logistically, but in terms of the event it was amazing,” said Western Canada Pond Hockey Championship Organizer Alex Halat.
“We’ve had almost 4,000 people our first day,” Halat said.
The three-day tournament had 600 players on 61 teams, Halat added, originally, he wanted to have 40 teams participate.
“We took on 21 more knowing that we could handle it, we turned away 40. We could have had almost 100 teams this year,” Halat said.
With hundreds of people on the ice at any given time, Halat and the tournament volunteers had to increase the ice maintenance being done in-between games.
“It’s a matter of scheduling games around when we can do ice maintenance, with that volume of players tearing it up, with that volume of people on the lake, we’re seeing big fractures.
“With 4,000 people we’re seeing big breaks in the ice, it was a matter of staying on top of it, so no one got hurt,” Halat said.
He added, “We underestimated how many volunteers we needed, there was a little bit of extra work for the folks that were around.”
Although there was extra work for all of the volunteers, seeing all of the kids having a blast made the hard work well worth it.
“There were kids that got beat by 20-30 goals, the kids they don’t even care, they were just happy to be outside,” Halat said.
He added, on the first day there was a girl vs. boys’ game where the boys were in the lead, so the girls challenged the boys to play ringette.
By the second half of the game, they turned their hockey sticks around and played ringette, and the girls brought the score back within one goal.
“It’s been a fun tournament, teams are mixing it up, if it’s not fair they’re just switching jerseys. Everyone is having a good time,” he said.
Halat received nothing but positive comments from the community, he added, even locals who don’t play hockey showed their support for the tournament.
“That’s the beauty of living in Chestermere, we’re such a welcoming community, basically we’re inviting all of our neighbours to come out, and showcase what we have to offer out here,” Halat said.
For teammates Tyson Endaol, and Landon Knight spending time with friends during the Western Canada Pond Hockey Championship was the highlight of the tournament.
“I’m not playing hockey this year so, I wanted to get back on skates,” Knight said.
Endaol added, the first day of the tournament went well, his team won both games, and he scored goals with his friends.
Championships wouldn’t have been possible without the support from Tim Hortons, and the hard work from the volunteers, Halat said.
He added, “Thank you to the community, without volunteers this wouldn’t have been a success.”