Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament Sees Changes

November 15, 2011 Updated Nov 15, 2011 at 1:26 PM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

November 15, 2011 Updated Nov 15, 2011 at 1:26 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - The water at the Erie Basin Marina may be far from being frozen over. When it is, it's "game on" for hockey players across Western New York.

On February 10th through the 12th, teams will take over the marina for the Fifth Annual Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament.

"The hockey tournament is a great thing for Buffalo. It has brought over several thousand players," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

This year, there the rules have changed allowing even more players and games under the stars.

"Some changes lights on the ice. We'll have nighttime hockey. The temperatures will come down a little bit to help the ice get slicker. We're also adding a roster spot to the team. Last year, they could have six people now we're adding a seventh spot," Labatt Blue Associate Manager Brett Carlsen said.

There will be 144 teams battling it out on the ice, with more than 1,000 players. Labatt Blue and City of Buffalo officials said safety first.

"We wait until February so we have a minimum of 12 inches of ice. That's the standard in pond hockey play for a safe tournament," Carlsen said.

The event not only brings people to the area but get residents out and about in Buffalo's Chilly winter.

"We know we're going to get cold weather and snow but it doesn't keep us inside or stop us from having fun. These outdoor events bring hundreds, even thousand of people," Mayor Brown said.

Registration begins at noon on November 27th. Teams must sign up online with a $250 registration fee ready to go. Officials said teams must move quickly because spots will fill up fast. One hundred percent of the fee will be returned should the tournament be cancelled due to weather.