Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- BUFFALO, NY – Labatt Blue beer on announced Tuesday in a news release details for the fifth annual Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament.
According to the news release, the 2012 tournament will feature nighttime pond hockey under the lights on Lake Erie at downtown Buffalo’s Erie Basin Marina. The evening play takes advantage of the colder temperatures and will allow more teams to play in Buffalo’s most grueling tournament.
This year, 144 teams will battle it out with larger rosters. Each team may now have seven players, instead of six. This will help teams rotate players when ice conditions get rough. More than 1,000 players will skate in the 2012 tournament, which will be held Friday, February 10 through Sunday, February 12, 2012. Last year the tournament included 124 teams and about 700 players.
Team registration opens on Sunday, November 27 at noon to give teams more time to plan. Registration is done on a first come, first serve basis so Labatt Blue officials recommend entering your team early. Last year’s tournament sold out in just a couple hours. The cost to register remains $250 per team, despite the boost in players allowed on the roster.
According to Labatt Blue Associate Brand Manager Brett Carlsen, tournament officials reviewed player and fan feedback, ice conditions and the last several years of tournament play to build on the experience.
“Every year, we look at how we can make the experience better. Increasing teams and roster size, combined with night-time pond hockey under the lights allows more die-hard players to participate and also creates a cool atmosphere for fans, looking for something to do on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Along with hockey, the tournament will feature live music, a deejay, gaming tent, and plenty of food and Labatt Blue beer.
Tournament Set Up and Team Format:
Ed Ellis will return as tournament director and will oversee team registration and 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 core, the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament’s goal is to create an authentic real hockey experience that brings players back to their roots,” said Carlsen.
Labatt Blue and tournament organizers look at weather patterns and historical data to determine the best possible dates for the games. A few key factors around weather and date selection include:
• Lake temperatures: helps Labatt predict timing around the lake freezing
• Prolonged freezing weather: helps produce between 10 and 12 inches of ice on Lake Erie. Typically the Lake begins to freeze in January and in February ice accumulates
• Weather patterns: those that keep the temperature cold enough for good ice surface on game day
“With several years now under our belts, we’ve gained a lot of knowledge around weather, tournament date selection and all the contributing factors. The reality is that the games will always be at the mercy of Buffalo’s weather. Historically, mid-February provides the best opportunity for the cold temperatures and ice depth that we need to put on a safe tournament,” said Carlsen.
Now in its fifth 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. “With over 1,000 hockey buffs on skates, we’re proud to continue what has become a Buffalo winter tradition – enjoying an icy cold Labatt Blue beer with thousands of fans in an incredible setting. Buffalo, Labatt Blue beer and hockey day and night – now that’s an experience people can appreciate,” said Carlsen.
“The Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament continues to grow in size and popularity, making it one of the City’s great annual winter events,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “There will be plenty of action on the ice again, especially when several of the games are played ‘under the lights’ at night. City crews will install portable lights around four of the 12 man-made rinks, adding to the excitement and hockey fun in downtown Buffalo.”
How to Enter a Team
Beginning November 27 at 12 p.m., teams can register for the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament on a first-come, first-serve basis at: www.labattbluepondhockey.com. The registration fee is $250 and players must present proof of age. Teams are encouraged to register early because an early sellout is anticipated. For questions, team captains can contact Ed Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a fan of the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament at: http://tinyurl.com/labattfacebook. Fans receive updates and information on rink construction, schedules, weather conditions and more.
* The Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament is subject to weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather or unplayable ice, the tournament will be canceled and players will receive a full refund. The tournament games will not be rescheduled.