The growing movement to bring hockey back to its roots on natural ice is spreading across the United States and Canada. Most recently, the Kalispell Convention & Visitor Bureau opened registration for the inaugural Montana Pond Hockey Classic, February 21-23, 2014. It will be the first major pond hockey tournament in Montana and one of the first in the Northwest United States.
To officially welcome pond hockey to Montana, Stanley Cup Champion and Hockey Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald will open the festivities. The three-day tournament will be held on Foys Lake in the Flathead Valley of Montana’s northwest corner. Surrounded by Rocky Mountain peaks, the lake is just a few miles from the region’s hub of Kalispell.
"Foys Lake is quintessential Montana — a natural lake surrounded by mountains and pine trees,” said Rob Brisendine, group sales manager of the Kalispell CVB. “Pond hockey players, friends and family are going to love the ice and exploring our beautiful corner of the world.”
While Foys Lake may feel quaint and remote, Kalispell is a bustling small city that is easily accessible via U.S. highways 2 and 93, daily flights into Glacier Park International Airport, and Amtrak train service into Whitefish on the Empire Builder line (12 miles to the north). Kalispell offers an array of lodging and dining options — and the iconic Glacier National Park and Whitefish Mountain Resort are each less than an hour drive from the center of town.
To produce the inaugural tournament Kalispell CVB partnered with Pond Hockey Classic, producers of the New England and Lake Champlain Pond Hockey Classics, both of which draw hundreds of participants each year. The tournament will be played in a 4 vs. 4, round-robin format. Each team will play two games Friday and two games Saturday on the 150 ft. x 75 ft. (46 m. x 23 m.) natural ice sheet. Qualifying teams will compete in playoff games on Sunday. In addition to the hockey itself, weekend-long activities on and off the ice will keep players and spectators entertained.
“We invite hockey enthusiasts to grab their buddies, form a team and come to Montana for a weekend of pond hockey at its greatest,” Brisendine said. “Kalispell is excited to be part of the movement that’s taking hockey back to the basics.”
Players are encouraged to form teams of four to eight players, depending on the division in which they participate. Players must be at least 21 years of age to participate. Team registration fee is $500, and teams can register at PondHockeyClassic.com/Montana.