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Skating up a storm at the World Pond Hockey Tournament

Pond hockey is a favorite Canadian winter tradition
Pond hockey is a favorite Canadian winter tradition

Jill Colton and Alexandra Pope, staff writers

February 13, 2011 — The World Pond Hockey tournament wrapped up Sunday in New Brunswick.

Roulston Lake, ready for hockey action
Roulston Lake, ready for hockey action

Hockey fans from all over the world descended on New Brunswick this weekend for one of the most popular tournaments in the world -- the World Pond Hockey Championship.

Athletes from as far away as Singapore participated in the four-day event on Lake Roulston in Plaster Rock, N.B.

Organizer Danny Braun said the 10th annual tournament, which started Thursday and wrapped up Sunday, was a big success, drawing 120 teams in the open division and 10 teams in the ladies' division.

Braun said participants in the tournament -- which has gone ahead rain, snow or shine in the past -- enjoyed good weather throughout the weekend.

“It was real cold in the evenings, but with the sun in the day, for the most part it was pretty good,” he said.

Pond hockey at the tournament differs from regular hockey in that 24 rinks of 70 by 140 feet are set up on the surface of the ice and play is four on four, without goaltenders.

This year, teams from every province in Canada, the Northwest Territories, 23 states and 10 countries competed for the championship. Some, like the Montreal Lagers, are long-time supporters of the tournament.

The Lagers, who have competed for five years running, are such loyal fans, they've even built a bar full of team memorabilia to celebrate off the ice.

According to coach Tom Godher, his team are “a bunch of middle-aged kids.”

Reliving memories made on the pond or the street is a big reason for the tournament's popularity, Braun said.

“It allows them to go back to their childhood for a few days,” he said.

Most of the international teams are made up of Canadian expats like Jeff Thompson of Singapore who miss the Canadian winters of their youth.

“I couldn't find any good ice or any hockey in Singapore and my buddies had come to this tournament previously, so I figured I'd make the trip this year,” Thompson said.

The tournament began in 2002 as a fundraiser for a new indoor arena for residents of New Brunswick's Tobique River Valley. The building has been constructed, Braun said, so any funds raised now go towards helping the local municipality pay off the costs.

With files from CBC New Brunswick.

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