Saturday, April 19, 2014
Not snow, nor rain, nor ... a nor’easter could keep Patrick Guerette from holding the second annual Maine Pond Hockey Classic.
Last year was proof.
After planning the pond event with 16 teams signed up, Guerette wasn’t deterred when nearly 2 feet of snow fell the Friday before the weekend event. Originally planned as a two-day tournament, he abbreviated it to a Sunday contest.
And then, with just two snowblowers on hand, he decided to run with it despite the snow squall that raged the day before.
“We had teams from Nova Scotia and Boston,” Guerette said. “We didn’t want to cancel because we knew those teams were coming from that far.”
Registration will close Tuesday for the Maine Pond Hockey Classic on China Lake, to be held Feb. 8-9. The event helps raise funds for the Alfond Youth Center in Waterville.
Last year a snowstorm was forecast for the Thursday before but hit Friday, the night before the event. Guerette simply cleaned more ice Sunday and fit all the elimination rounds into one day on four rinks.
“I went out Saturday and we tried to clear the ice for Saturday, but the wind kept blowing so much, it kept blowing it back. I thought, ‘We’re fighting an uphill battle,’ ” Guerette said.
The tournament’s ice crew planned on using four snowblowers but ended up with only three. Then one broke.
“If I could do it again, I would have canceled it. But I’m glad I didn’t. It forced us to buckle down and make things happen. It worked out. And everyone got to play,” Guerette said.
This year he’s scrapping the whole snowblower approach and getting an ATV with a plow and a water system out the back, something of a homemade, mini Zamboni.
This February Guerette hopes to add youth divisions as well as one for college club players. He said weather won’t matter.
“We could have 15 below or it could be sunny or raining. We could have puddles. We’ll roll with it whatever we’ve got,” said the tournament founder and director.
As of last week, 14 teams were registered, but Guerette is aiming for 40. Adding social media and more divisions, he thinks the tournament will grow in its second year.
Eventually he’d like to see hundreds of teams playing on 3,845-acre China Lake. Guerette said the the lake could accommodate more than 1,000 teams, which is why he chose the venue.
“We’re planning on 10 rinks this year,” Guerette said. “Vermont and New Hampshire have state tournaments that draw more than 150 to 200 teams. I definitely think Maine can support a tournament like that. Pond hockey is a unique tradition, it’s more about camaraderie. It’s about the brotherhood of playing hockey.”
Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at: