By Nikki Fredrikson
Special to the Pioneer
A weekend full of good old hockey games is set for Friday, January 27th to Sunday, the 29th as the Columbia Valley Rockies host their annual Pond Hockey Tournament. The event attracts teams from all over North America and occasionally Europe to participate in the tournament. With 20 plus teams competing, participants take part in games under the floodlights on Lake Windermere on Friday and continue to play throughout the weekend.
Graeme Anderson, Columbia Valley Rockies club president, said it is designed for teams of eight, in true pond hockey fashion with small nets and no goaltenders.
As an outdoor event, weather always poses a challenge with unpredictable snowfall affecting the ice surface. According to Mr. Anderson, this year the ice surface of the lake is really good. Confirming with the Pioneer, construction on rink three, the farthest from the beach, has already begun.
The annual event is one of many fundraisers for the Rockies program with funds raised going towards the operation of the junior hockey program.
“Without those fundraising events, we couldn’t have a junior team here. It’s really important for that but it’s just as important for the community. It’s something that very few places in B.C. have,” said Mr. Anderson. “We’re the perfect place for it.”
Each year the Rockies work to make the tournament more fun and engage with local businesses to build the event.
“This year the Station Pub and Rocky River Grill will be involved in catering to our contestants, they’ll get a meal provided for them in one of those venues,” said Mr. Anderson.
Registration for the tournament is open until Monday, January 22nd. Mr. Anderson said they normally try and facilitate teams right up until the day before the event, but the cut off is the Monday before.
“Come that Tuesday morning we want to get the schedule set in stone so that everybody knows when they’re playing. We also always try and facilitate the teams that are travelling here by scheduling games with more local teams first. So that the people who are travelling in for the weekend have more time to get here,” said Mr. Anderson.
For the Rockies, a big part of their events is to try to bring in people from other communities because it brings money into the community, explained Mr. Anderson.
“Most of the teams are from outside of town. At least half of them are from outside of town,” said Mr. Anderson. “Normally we get teams from Kelowna and Nelson as well.”
This year the Columbia Valley Rockies are hoping to give back to the community by making a donation to Rob Dunn’s recovery from funds raised at this year’s event (a local man diagnosed with cancer).
The Rockies are still looking for volunteers to get involved with the event with opportunities for people interested in scorekeeping, officiating, or maintaining the ice. Anyone interested in volunteering can get in touch with Mr. Anderson at email@example.com.