A week’s delay and the loss of a dozen teams didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of participants and spectators at the Western Regional Pond Hockey Championships in Rossland.
The event wrapped up Sunday afternoon with some familiar names in the winners circle and glowing review of the ice conditions and organization.
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FROM PAGE 9
Once the snow had settled the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) Gilnockie Ruttin Bucks claimed their second Competitive Division title in three years with a 27-16 win over Rossland’s Top Shelf Construction.
Although the Organic Dry Cleaners were sporting a new name, it still had the same talent as previous years as they collided with the Wild Things in the women’s final for the third straight year. This round went to the Organic Dry Cleaners by a 16-5 count.
The men’s Recreation Division saw the Rex Hotel Outlaws win three straight games on Sunday including the division finale in overtime as they defeated Lifeworks from Rossland 27-25.
Although the event saw several teams forced to withdraw after the event was postponed due to mild weather, the star of the weekend without a doubt was the ice conditions.
“Raymond (Von Diebitsch) is the ice savant,” said tournament organizer John Reed of the man in charge of getting the playing surface ready.
That comment was echoed by many of the players.
“It was fabulous,” said Aaron Shrieves of the Ruttin Bucks. “I’ve never seen pond hockey that nice.”
Eric Hill of Top Shelf Construction has played in all three pond hockey tournaments in Rossland and gave this one the best marks yet.
“Raymond has done an amazing job. The conditions are getting better, the organizing is getting better and the ice is immaculate this year.”
Reed said the weekend went without a problem and the tournament had the added bonus of blue skies on Saturday and a large crowd enjoying the sunshine and pond hockey.
“We couldn’t have picked a nicer day than Saturday,” he said. “The vibe was great, the sun was out and there was the iconic views of Red Mountain in the background.”
Sunday’s final games were played under a steady snowfall that only added to the pond experience.
And despite the Competitive Division dwindling down to just three teams, the players understood the logistics of hosting an outdoor tournament.
“That’s what happens,” said Shrieves. “You can’t fault any of the teams with what’s going on. John and all these other organizers can’t predict Mother Nature.”
Nevertheless, Reed already has plans for next year’s event to ensure it goes off on the date planned and avoid postponement and the potential of teams withdrawing.
“Next year we’re not going to host it during Winter Carnival,” he explained. “We’re going to negotiate with minor hockey and figure skating and look at their schedules so we can have a backup and rent the ice in the arena.”
He said the arena ice could be divided into two and have three-on-three hockey as opposed to the four-on-four format outside.
“Obviously our first choice is outside because it’s pond hockey. At the same time everybody has families and kids and jobs and lives that they have to organize.”
Hill said he’s not too worried about next year considering the great job organizers do every year.
“We’re all here to have fun,” he said.
“It keeps getting better and better. Next year I’m sure it will be the best one.”