Known for its beautiful scenery and nature activities, New Brunswick is also the home to an internationally recognized annual championship called World Pond Hockey. In 2002, event creators Danny Braun and Tom Chamberlain aspired to raise money to open a recreation center in Tobique Valley, located in the rural Plaster Rock village.
Braun’s idea to organize a hockey tournament to raise money for the center has grown into a global championship event. The first year, the tournament hosted 40 teams from Canada and Maine, US. Its financial success sparked expansive growth, attracting additional team registrations every year. In 2007, the Tobique-Plex center opened, and tournament event profits continue to defray the recreation center’s operating costs.
Since 2002, the tournament has increased in popularity, expanding from its original 40-team registration to more than 120 teams from 15 countries across the globe, including Denmark, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, and Singapore. In addition, teams from every Canadian province and 35 states in the United States participate yearly. With more than 200 volunteers, the event hosts more than 8,000 participants and onlookers, including representatives of the mainstream press. By 2007, the event staff received more than 800 applications for tournament participation, and Canada’s Prime Minister attended the event, participating in its official start by dropping the puck at the beginning of the tournament.
Even the way the organizers prepare the ice has evolved. In the beginning, staff used measuring tape to establish the rinks after driving pick-up trucks to plow the lake. Now, teams use snow blowers, skid steer loaders, and a significantly increasing number of trucks to prepare the area with an array of equipment to ensure smooth ice for the high-profile event.
Featuring 20 outdoor ice rinks, World Pond Hockey implements a four-on-four tournament format. Forty teams play within the outdoor rinks at a time. Each team is comprised of four players and an alternate. Tournament rules require teams to use players aged 19 or older. Each team competes in five 30-minute matches during the four-day event. Thirty-two of the winning teams compete for the championship during playoff rounds, which feature the most successful competitors.
The tournament’s rules differ from traditional hockey in some respects. For instance, there is no goalie during tournament matches, so a player must attempt a score from over the rink’s centerline. All shots remain close to the ice to reach the net, which is 10-inches high. In addition, no penalty boxes exist because if a penalty is called, the competing team is awarded a goal. These rules are in place to ensure sportsman-like conduct, which has become the trademark of the world-class hockey tournament.
Registration for the 2022 tournament begins September 1. During the first phase, teams are not required to submit payment with registration applications. By November 1, the event organizers shall determine whether or not to host the conference, given global pandemic conditions. If the tournament proceeds, applicants may submit registration payments upon notification.