Each year since the annual Polar Pond Hockey tournament began in Hay River, it’s drawn the competitive and the fun types, but next year there are a few people hoping for more wackiness.
Spectators gathered in the large tent around or one of 10 rinks near Fisherman’s Wharf in Hay River’s Old Town to watch some outdoor hockey. Since 2009 the tournament has drawn the experienced and the not so experienced, hockey lovers and spectators to bid a final, fond farewell to the sport for the season, in their own unique way. For some, this means donning costumes along with creative team names.
The tournament, held from March 23 to 25, hosted 26 men’s teams, eight women’s teams and seven oldtimer’s teams who signed up to play in the now legendary polar pond hockey tournament. There were fewer creative jersey entries this year but last year’s hula girls who won best costume, were this year’s “tipsy cups.”
Although talented, the team was eliminated after its fourth game to the Buffalo C-45er’s and were unable to proceed to quarter-finals.
“Not this year,” said team member Winter Haley, “but it was fun. This is great hockey. It’s a lot of fun and no one is out to hurt anyone.”
Haley, who wasn’t one to brag, said fewer teams were partaking in the DIY-uniform fun.
“People have kind of gotten away from it this year,” said Haley. “There was only one other women’s team that had costumes. But it’s
fun to be creative.”
Teammate Ingrid Wood said creating the costumes from common materials is part of the fun.
“It’s amazing what you can make with duct-tape, table cloth runner, old T-shirts and plumbing tubes,” she said.
This year was more conducive to costumes thanks to the weather. Recalling frozen eyelids, nostrils and lungs in past events, team members were definitely not begrudging the unseasonable weather.
“This temperature today is ideal,” said Haley. “Years before it’s been crazy.”
Three Tuques and One Rubber Boot won the championship in the men’s division; the Moosehide Mammas from Fort Simpson won the women’s division; and the Hay River Huskies won the championships in the old-timer’s division.