Puck set to drop on third annual tourney

The field is set, the ice is good and all systems are go for the third annual Western Regional Pond Hockey Championship this weekend in Rossland.

Twenty-five teams signed up for this weekend’s hockey tournament

The field is set, the ice is good and all systems are go for the third annual Western Regional Pond Hockey Championship this weekend in Rossland.

Over 140 players will be in the Golden City for third days of outdoor hockey action beginning Friday afternoon and wrapping up Sunday afternoon.

Even organizer John Reed said every year the entire operation and preparation of the tournament is getting better.

Reed said the two rinks, located in the Emcon yard near the Rossland Arena, are in great shape.

“The ice is good so far. I have to thank (ice maker) Raymond Von Diebitsch and Rossland Public Works department for all their hard work.”

He added 25 teams have signed up, including four women’s teams, as of Monday’s registration deadline.

The breakdown will see seven teams in the men’s 19+ championship round, nine teams competing in the men’s 19+ recreation division and five teams in the men’s 35+ division.

The tournament attracted 26 teams last year and 33 teams in its inaugural season.

All three major division champions from last year – the Benson Oilers (25+championship division), the Kootenay Wild Things (women’s division champions) and Lifeworks (men’s recreational division) – are back to defend their titles.

The Oilers and Wild Things have reached the final of their respective divisions in the first two years of the event.

Reed said the overall response has been better than last year when 18 teams competed in the event. The numbers were down due to the tournament being postponed for a week due to mild weather.

The inaugural championship attracted 33 teams in 2009.

“The response has been good this year,” said Reed. “We have teams from Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary, Kelowna along with the local West Kootenay teams.”

Reed just returned home from the first Northern Regional Pond Hockey Championship in Prince George held Jan. 14 to 16.

The event attracted 32 teams to West Lake Provincial Park where organizers created rinks on the frozen lake.

Reed said despite the chilly temperatures the first foray north proved to be a big success.

Meanwhile, he has his fingers crossed for this weekend.

The forecast is for temperatures hovering around the freezing mark with a chance of precipitation. Sunday’s outlook is for clear and cooler temperatures.

Reed explained the Rossland event is now part of the B.C. Provincial Pond Hockey Series. He said the series will incorporate the tournaments in Rossland, Prince George and a yet-to-be-determined site for 2012. With three venues, the provincial championship tournament would rotate between each community, which would continue to have its annual regional tournament as well.

“Winners in all divisions automatically win entry into their hometown tournament as well as all other tournament locations in the series,” said Reed.

Games will run through Friday evening, all day on Saturday and Sunday’s playoff round begins at 11 a.m. with the semifinals.

A band will be playing in the tournament beer gardens on Saturday between 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.