A tradition is born: First annual Grand Lake Pond Hockey Classic held over weekend
A new tradition was born in Grand Lake over the weekend as the first annual Grand Lake Pond Hockey Classic was held on the icy surface of Colorado’s largest natural body of water.
Hundreds of players and spectators showed up Saturday for the first iteration of the new event organized by town resident Brian Blumenfeld and put on under the auspices of the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce. Blumenfeld, whose title for the tournament was commissioner, was thrilled by the public’s response to the new winter ritual.
“It was a huge success,” Blumenfeld said. “There was a huge turnout and everyone had a great time. It was almost 50 degrees and people were out there in tank tops. It really made it quite the festive environment.”
A large PA system kept the atmosphere lively throughout the day with rock and roll tunes blasting out as citizens camped out on the ice with lawn chairs while enjoying the scene. Blumenfeld estimated over 500 spectators showed up over the course of the day to watch the multi-hour event.
Tournament action got underway Saturday morning with the puck dropping on the first matches around 9 a.m. The Pond Hockey Classic featured a three-on-three format for games and a total of three different divisions – for beginner, intermediate and advanced level players.
A total of 27 teams preregistered for the event and according to Blumenfeld 150 skaters took to the ice over the course of the day for tournament play. The top spot for the beginner – or Fox – division went to the Blade Runners. First place in the intermediate – or Elk – division went to the Snipers while the advanced – or Moose – division was taken by The Carhartt Breakers.
While Saturday’s warm weather helped create a festive atmosphere for tournament attendees it led to ice conditions that were less than optimal.
“Ideal conditions for hockey would have been colder,” Blumenfeld said. “Later in the day things got pretty slushy. But we were able to finish everything out.”
Blumenfeld noted that both the beginner and intermediate divisions wrapped up before sundown Saturday but the advanced division championship match was held under the lights after darkness descended on the town.
Blumenfeld said he definitely plans to continue the Grand Lake Pond Hockey Classic in future years and that the goal is to make the tournament “bigger and better” each year. He hopes Saturday’s hockey action is simply the first in what will become one of Grand Lake’s winter traditions.
The rinks for the tournament will remain on Grand Lake for the immediate future and local citizens are welcome to utilize open rinks at no charge. Blumenfeld said there is no formal maintenance regime for the rinks and anyone interested in playing on them may need to shovel snow off before they can be used, though he plans to leave two goals on the ice for public use.
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