There’s something about Pond Hockey that touches us all; memories of our youth, a chance to get outside and celebrate a cold winter, and just another way to participate in the greatest game we know. With events such as the Winter Classic helping grow popularity for hockey and celebration for the game in its purest form, we are fortunate to have our own opportunity to bring this enthusiasm to Rangeley, Maine, in the form of the New England Pond Hockey Festival.
The festival is the brainchild of three men who share passions for both the greatest game on earth and the outdoors. Deron Barton, David Eaton, and John Fay all play hockey in the Greater Portland area. Deron’s love for hunting and fishing brought him to Rangeley, where he developed a vision of an old time hockey tournament held in rural Maine; essentially, a tournament boasting “hockey the way it was meant to be played.”
Deron got together with John and David, and the first annual New England Pond Hockey Festival was born in 2007. As we head into the sixth year, the tournament has grown both in size and maturity. We learn from the past, and try to provide a well-run tournament while increasing the number of participants in a manageable way. The ultimate goal is, and has been since inception, to provide an unforgettable experience for all participants. To be able to grow the sport in Maine and support the local skating club is simply an added reward to the efforts of all those involved.
Several similar events are held across the U.S. and Canada, and we’re indebted to their organizers for elevating a timeless and simple game to a community-building event. The organizers of tournaments in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, Lake Placid, New York, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, have cleared the way for this Pond Hockey Festival, and more are springing up every year, especially in our beloved New England!
We are all fortunate to have had a hand in creating this special weekend on an annual basis, and are even more privileged to be able to promote our beloved sport. In the words of Stephen Leacock, a Canadian Economist and writer, “In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter, we are alive.”