2017-02-09 / Front Page

Chain Lake Will See Hockey Action

St. Ignace Pond Hockey February 16 - 19

The 2017 Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship at St. Ignace will take place on Chain Lake Thursday, February 16, through Sunday February 19. The weather has not been cold enough for long enough to form solid ice to hold the event on its usual location on Moran Bay, so it will return to Chain Lake, where it was also held in 2012.

Chain Lake has more space than the other backup location outside Little Bear East Arena, said Event Committee Chairman Mark Sposito.

“(Moran) Bay is obviously the first choice, but Chain Lake provides us with a lot of area to use. Little Bear East has only about one-tenth the area of the bay,” he said.

None of the scheduled events will be affected by the move.

Some preparations have begun at Chain Lake, but most will take place toward the end of the week, once inclement weather that is expected midweek moves through. Workers will create the event tent, locker room tents, and 25 ice rinks, with 24 dedicated to hockey. One rink will be used for the Yooper Ice Tennis Doubles Championship and an exhibition from the Rapid City Renegades, a women’s roller derby team.

Twenty-three of the 25 hockey divisions are full. There are two openings, with one each in the 40 and older and 45 and older divisions. The tennis tournament is also full.

The Detroit Red Wings Alumni game inside Little Bear East Arena on Friday night, February 17, will be offered free of charge this year. Attendance will be first come, first serve. There will be standing room. VIP tickets are available for $25 and can be purchased at the Visitors Bureau or the Chamber of Commerce. The VIP section offers reserved seating with food and drinks throughout the game. The Red Wings players will be available for photographs and autographs during intermission and the Rapid City Renegades will give spectators a preview of their Saturday exhibition. The Labatt Girls will also be in attendance, entertaining the crowd and handing out free prizes.

An event this big requires the help of many volunteers. Mr. Sposito estimates that it takes between 100 to 150 people to meet all of the needs. Volunteers are needed in the event tent, as parking attendants, shuttle drivers, and more. The tennis tournament requires four volunteers per match. A referee, line judge, and two ball-persons are needed. Students who volunteer can earn community service hours. The days are divided into time slots so that nobody has to serve for an entire day.

“Volunteers are greatly appreciated. This event could not happen or be as successful without them,” said Mr. Sposito.

For information on areas needed, or to sign up for a time slot, interested people can call the Chamber of Commerce at 643-8717.

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