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11th annual pond hockey tournament starts Sunday with a new twist


Buffalo Riverworks has hosted the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament since 2014. This year they are doing something a little different.

Same location, but now there’s two separate tournaments, starting with Sunday's one-day event. The past few years they have had a lottery system due to the team capacity and three-day format. Labatt Blue Associate Brand Manager Gina Heine said it’s feedback from teams who have played previously that created today’s one-day tournament.

“I think it’s all about keeping that communication open,” said Heine. “We’re headquartered in Buffalo. We feel really close to the community. The teams that have played with us they can work with us on how to switch this up. We just listened to them and heard them that scheduling could be tough. We’ve adapted this new tournament format and we’re looking forward just to see how it works.”

The tournament has run smoothly since Buffalo Riverworks started hosting the event. It wasn’t always like that.

“You know being in Buffalo you don’t really anticipate it being an issue for pond in the winter,” said Heine. “It became a challenge for us a couple years. We got together with Riverworks in 2014 and established this working relationship. They’ve been a great partner for us.”

Heine said they are always trying to slide everybody in and accommodate where they can.

“I think after this year we’ll certainly loop back with the team and see if we checked the boxes in getting the format right. I think it’s good to switch it up. This is our eleventh year. Whatever we can do to make the tournament fresh and make sure we are accommodating everyone is our main goal,” Heine said.

The puck drops at 4 PM Sunday. Later in the week, the four-day tournament will start Thursday at 7 PM and run through next Sunday night. The total amount of games played between the two tournaments is expected to be over 200.

Other attractions to be found tonight include the Vendor Village, live entertainment by the Brothers of Invention, and silo zip lining and rock climbing outside of Buffalo Riverworks.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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