Polar Pond Hockey to return next year

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The Polar Pond Hockey tournament on the ice of the Hay River will be returning in 2019 after skipping this year.

It is not happening this season because of the upcoming Arctic Winter Games, set for March 18 to March 24.

Tyler Haley of the team Queen’s Horsemen played in the 2017 Polar Pond Hockey tournament. NNSL file photo

“Just with the Arctic Winter Games being such a big event, it’s already asking a lot from the community for volunteers, and so we figured we’d take a year off from the pond hockey,” said Ryan Rowe, the chair of last year’s event.

“We ask a lot from our volunteers at pond hockey and they’re always great and extremely helpful, but definitely this year there’s already a lot being asked of them and so we didn’t want to put too much on their plate,” he added.

Rowe said it was known by participants after last year’s Polar Pond Hockey event that it would be put aside for 2018.

“I don’t think anybody is too bummed out about it,” he said. “There’ll be plenty to do here.”

Organizers didn’t feel that one year off would be too damaging to the event, he added. “It is a great event and it’s too bad to not be doing it this year, but at the same time, it will be pretty busy here next month.”

Rowe said there was never really any discussion about moving Polar Pond Hockey to earlier in the winter.

“We figured February would be busy with the prep for the games and January would be too cold,” he explained.

The eighth version of Polar Pond Hockey was held last year from March 10 to 12.

Organizers aim for about 40 teams each year, and there have usually been about 35 teams in recent years.

The highest number of teams ever for the event was 48.

Rowe said the initial idea of the tournament was to raise some money for the new rec centre project and also just to give people something to do in March during the wintertime.

Each year, eight rinks are created on the ice of the Hay River in front of Fisherman’s Wharf.

Rowe predicted the event will come back strong next year.

“Hopefully, the one year off won’t take anything away from that,” he said. “And I think it will be a successful event.”