2017-02-02 / Front Page

Event Site Decision Coming Monday

197 Teams Registered for Pond Hockey
By Kevin R. Hess


With cold air on its way, organizers are hopeful that Moran Bay will continue to freeze in time to host the 2017 Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship. If it doesn’t, Little Bear East Arena (outdoors) and Chain Lake are the two backup options. Event organizers plan to choose the location by Monday, February 6. This view of the bay was taken Monday, January 30. With cold air on its way, organizers are hopeful that Moran Bay will continue to freeze in time to host the 2017 Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship. If it doesn’t, Little Bear East Arena (outdoors) and Chain Lake are the two backup options. Event organizers plan to choose the location by Monday, February 6. This view of the bay was taken Monday, January 30. As of Monday, January 30, 197 teams are registered for the Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship at St. Ignace Thursday, February 16, through Sunday, February 19. While there is still hope that the event can be held on Moran Bay, there are two other locations that would be ready for preparation today, said organizer Mark Sposito. Those two locations are outside Little Bear East Arena, which is the first choice for a backup location, and Chain Lake.

Temperatures have dropped below freezing this week, and more of the same is forecast. For example, Monday, January 30, the temperature was 18 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Our hope is always that we can use the bay, but lack of ice [there] will not keep the event from happening,” Mr. Sposito said.

Organizers plan to choose the location by next Monday, February 6. The goal was to see 200 teams registered, and there are only three spots left. There are two openings in the 40-and-older division, and one spot in the 45-and-older division. Admission is free to spectators.

Along with hockey, two events will be debuting for the first time during Pond Hockey weekend. The first Yooper Ice Tennis Doubles championship will feature eight, two-person teams playing tennis on ice skates and with helmets. Registration is free, but is limited to the first eight teams. Currently, seven teams have registered. If Moran Bay is unable to be used, the tennis championship will depend on the availability of space at the backup locations.

Another first for this year is an exhibition from a women’s roller derby team, the Rapid City Renegades. They will trade their wheels for blades and give spectators a view into the sport of roller derby. The exhibition will take place sometime Saturday, February 18.

Regardless of where the event is held, teams can bid on the use of a chalet, essentially a private, heated locker room for a team to use in between and after games. Bids are now being accepted and can only be made by e-mailing info@stignace.com. Minimum bid is $200, and bidding will end on Wednesday, February 15. Updates will be posted on the Web site daily at 11 a.m., 2 p. m., and 4:45 p.m. with the highest bid received.

This year will once again feature a Detroit Red Wings Alumni Game at Little Bear East Arena Friday, February 17, and this year admission is free. The game starts at 7 p.m. Seating is limited, so spectators should plan to arrive early to get a seat. Standing room will also be available. A V.I.P. lounge is available for $25 and includes food and drink during the game. The game will played in two halves, rather than three periods.

Fifteen members of the Red Wings Alumni Team will be in attendance. Among the notable names are Randy McKay, Joe Kocur, Jason Woolley, and Petr Klima. Collectively, they have been a part of multiple Stanley Cup championship teams. Other players will be confirmed soon. The Red Wings players will be available during the intermission for photographs and autographs.

Intermission will also feature other entertainment. The Rapid City Renegades roller derby team will give spectators a preview of their Saturday exhibition, and the Labatt Girls will be in attendance, entertaining the crowd and handing out prizes. There will be a judging of the “Best Team Beard” contest. At least four team members, wearing their hockey jerseys, must be present for the contest. There is no entry fee and the wining team will receive free entry into the 2018 Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship ($425 value.)

For more information, or to register a team for the championship, call (800) 338-6660, or visit www.stignace.com.

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