Pond Hockey Apparel Co. and Beer League Unis have come together to stage a one-day pond hockey tournament in an effort to raise funds for Sick Kids Hospital.
The 2020 Prince Winter Classic Charity Hockey Tournament - slated to take place at the Prince Township Festival and Events Pavilion Feb. 22 - promises to feature vendors, prizes and a full day of hockey on an outdoor rink.
“I think it’s the nostalgia of it - people can relate to having that game outdoors with their friends or in the backyard rinks that someone’s father built,” said Pond Hockey Apparel Co. owner and operator Justin Marandola. “It’s that old-school feeling.”
Marandola and Beer League Unis owner Justin Adam conceived the idea for a three-on-three pond hockey tournament due to the hockey-related nature of their local businesses.
The pair deemed Sick Kids Foundation a worthy cause for the upstart charity hockey tournament.
Marandola says he and Adam are both parents, which factored into the pair’s decision to support Sick Kids Foundation.
“I think for us it was kind of a thing that hit home - you never know what life’s going to throw at you,” he said.
After scouting a couple potential locations for the inaugural charity tournament, Marandola received some inspiration from a local Ontario Hockey League product who had been playing hockey at the pavilion in Prince Township.
“I was working with Nick Porco who plays for the Barrie Colts - he’s a local player, and he had sent me a picture one day of him playing out in Prince Township,” said Marandola. “So that kind of sparked me, and so we went out to take a look at it.”
It’s been a relatively warm winter, but organizers are confident pond hockey competitors will be pleased with the pavilion, which has a roof, lighting for night games and a good ice surface.
“As long as the weather agrees with us, then the ice will be fine,” said Marandola. “It’s a really nice setup there for an outdoor tournament.”
The one-day tournament will rely upon registration fees, in addition to donated prizes and sponsorship from area businesses, in order to generate funds for Sick Kids Foundation.
“It really snowballed quickly. We hadn’t really thought of anything, we just started running with it and it kind of snowballed into this thing,” said Marandola. “Originally it was just going to be a tournament, but now we have Northern [Superior Brewing Co.] and BeaverTails. Uncle Gino’s is going to be doing food, and I’m going to have a pop-up shop, and Tackle the North is going to have a pop-up shop.”
“It just kind of snowballed into this whole event.”
Marandola and Adam are excited for the pond hockey tournament, which the pair plans to make an annual charity event.
“We’ve had a great response from teams, and we’ve kept the registration rate fairly low to attract people,” said Marandola. “We’ve got nothing but positive feedback, so we’re really looking forward to next Saturday.”