There is one certain thing about Montrealers, one thing that has always brought us together – and that is hockey. No matter what differences in opinion we might have on some issues, no matter what language we speak or what scarves or hats we put on our heads, it is embedded in our collective psyche. And ‘Pond Hockey’ fits right into that history. This weekend, as part of the ‘Les Hivernales’ celebrations for Montreal’s 375th anniversary, you can share the love with hundreds of other hockey fans and players at the very first ‘Classique Montréalaise’ Pond Hockey Tournament taking place at Parc Jean-Drapeau this Saturday January 28th and Sunday the 29th. And it’s free!
The games, organized by Evenko, will take place on 16 rinks at the Olympic Basin and feature teams of 4 to 6 players who will compete in a four-on-four, double-elimination format. And as outdoor hockey tradition dictates, they will compete without goalies – but the nets are much smaller in width and especially in height, compared to NHL standards.
Up to 96 teams were expected to play, but due to the event’s popularity close to144 teams are now expected to be participating. The teams will be divided into four different categories:
The ‘DIE-HARD’ category – for Elite players who will compete for the title of ‘Classique Montréalaise Champions’. There is no skill-level restrictions and is open to both men and women players.
The ‘RECREATIONAL’ category – for recreational players who want to participate in a more relaxed, good-natured atmosphere. It is open to both male and female players.
The ’50 AND OVER’ category – for players over the age of fifty who also want to participate in a more relaxed, good-natured atmosphere. It is open to both male and female players.
The ‘LADIES’ category – exclusively for female players.
And there are rules and things put in place to make sure the games stay in check. Games will last 30 continuous minutes, divided into two, 14-minute periods separated by a two-minute break. Referee calls are final. An official scorekeeper will supply pucks and keep track of goals and yes, penalties.
All Minor Penalties call for the repossession of the puck by the opposing team and a game restart from its side of the game. At the end of the game, the team with the least penalties will be awarded one penalty shot per extra penalty accumulated by the other team. Shots will be fired from center ice into an empty net. All Major Penalties will result in an immediate expulsion of the involved player from the game.
But there is much more planned around the event. A huge turnout is expected and the main idea of the Classique Montréalaise is not just the hockey, it is also to have fun.
On site you will find ‘a giant heated tent that includes a restaurant/bar, an entertainment area, outdoor games, free skating, music, animation and shows’ over the weekend. You can also warm up by enjoying ‘a cup of delicious hot chocolate in exchange for a voluntary contribution’ at the ‘comfort zone’ where President’s Choice will be donating all the money collected to the St. Michael’s Mission charity. All activities are free and here is the schedule:
8:30am – Start of the hockey games
12:30pm – Show by Émile Bilodeau (Main stage)
1:30pm – Visit by the Canadiens Alumni: Chris Nilan and Steve Bégin
1:30 to 5:00pm – Performance by Nino (375th tent)
2:00 to 4:00pm – Visit by Patrice Lemieux
4:00pm – End of games
5:00pm – Show by Les Dales Hawerchuk (Main stage)
6:00pm – Nino en duo (375th tent)
8:30am – Start of the games
12:30pm – Performance by The Planet Smashers (Main stage)
1:30 to 3:30pm – Visit by the Canadiens Alumni: Chris Nilan, Steve Bégin, Mathieu Dandenault and Enrico Ciccone.
1:30 to 3:00pm – Show by Jabbour (375th tent)
2:30pm – Finals
3:30pm – Awards ceremony for the winning teams in the 4 categories (Main stage)
4:00pm – Show by Jabbour (375th tent)
*In case of bad weather the tournament will be moved to February 4th and 5th.
It certainly sounds like a lot of fun and a great opportunity to enjoy winter in the best way – the Montreal way. But make sure to dress warmly and to not forget your ear muffs, gloves, hats, scarves… and your joie de vivre! Visit 375mtl.com for more information.
By: Bonnie Wurst – mtltimes.ca