Pond hockey coming soon

A three-day celebration of all things hockey is headed to Invermere in 2012.

A three-day celebration of all things hockey is headed to Invermere in 2012, and organizers are hoping to see the festival become an annual event.

The first Eastern Regional Pond Hockey Championships hit Invermere February 2, with a Thursday night kick-off event, then run all day from the 3 to the 5.

In addition to the main event — a pond hockey tournament with teams of six facing off on frozen Lake Windermere — event co-ordinator John Reed says the weekend will feature a street hockey tournament, a centre ice art competition with Pynelogs Cultural Centre and hockey-themed activities in the district’s downtown core.

“It’s just to create a real buzz and promote the winter culture of the region and on the lake, with everything else that’s going on in addition to pond hockey — the street hockey and the skiing and the great winter experience that’s available in Invermere and in the region,” says Reed.

The championships have already been successfully staged in Rossland and Prince George, which also hosts an annual tournament. Reed says Invermere’s enthusiasm and proximity to Calgary helped make it an attractive place to start up another yearly event.

For the first year, he’s hoping to see about 50 teams from B.C., Alberta and the northern U.S. sign up to compete.

Registration is already open, and Reed is encouraging people who might be interested in forming teams to start planning now.

More information on signing up a team is available at bcpondhockey.com/playing-in-invermere.html.

“It resonates with everyone as the start of hockey as a kid,” Reed says of pond hockey’s appeal. “It’s really that fresh air experience that’s almost in your DNA as a Canadian.”