NHL alumni and Canadian hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser will play an all-star game at Hay River’s Polar Pond Hockey this spring.
Thanks to support from the federally funded Climate and Sport Initiative, the March 11-13 tournament will double as the next “Save Pond Hockey” event, through which athletes raise awareness of climate change.
Accompanying the all-star game will be the traditional four-on-four tournament, hockey skills sessions, and a sustainability marketplace at the Fisherman’s Wharf.
Registration for the round-robin tournament is open now.
“Our government is witnessing first-hand the negative effects of a changing environment on our community. We are proud to be taking a stance to help ensure a healthy future,” Hay River’s mayor, Kandis Jameson, was quoted as saying in a news release.
“The 2022 Save Pond Hockey event will have a global reach in its messaging while showcasing the passion and spirit inherent in the community of Hay River.”
Polar Pond Hockey has been taking place since 2008, hosting as many as 50 teams – mostly from the NWT, Nunavut, and northern Alberta – on up to 10 outdoor rinks.
In 2019, Polar Pond Hockey had to be cancelled because of unseasonably warm weather.
“Canada’s northern communities are on the front lines of climate change,” said Polar Pond Hockey organizer Terry Rowe.
“We are pleased to host a Save Pond Hockey game and showcase how people can take action.”
Covid-19 cancelled the tournament’s indoor gala in 2020, though the outdoor games were able to continue. The event wasn’t held in 2018 as the Arctic Winter Games were being co-hosted by the town, and in 2021 no event took place, meaning 2022 will be the first full Polar Pond Hockey in five years.
“We’re all very, very excited to get going and play some hockey and have a good time,” Rowe told Cabin Radio.
He confirmed Hayley Wickenheiser – who won four gold medals and one silver playing hockey for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics – will be coming up for Polar Pond Hockey, and said details of other players will be announced soon.
He said the board is hoping for 50 teams to register this year, which would mean the creation of 10 rinks on the Hay River.