There's still room to register for one of the most unique sporting events a young hockey team might ever be a part of.
It's a hockey tournament for novice and pre-novice minor hockey teams. But this isn't just any hockey tournament.
For starters — it's held outdoors. But not on just any outdoor rink. It's on a lake.
For the last 14 years, the Kinsmen Club in Lac La Biche has been turning frozen surface of Lac La Biche lake in northeastern Alberta into an on-ice hockey village for a one-day tournament that draws up to 28 teams from across Western Canada. This year, the Rob McCormick Memorial On the Pond Hockey Tournament will take place on Saturday, March 7.
And there's still some room left for teams to register.
"Outdoors, feeling the sunshine ... and sometimes the wind and snow ... on their faces, the kids always seem to have a good time," explained Lac La Biche Kinsmen Club president Gerry Webster. "I think everyone who comes onto the ice that day has a great time, not just kids."
How much?? Is that a typo?
Registration for the day-long tournament is $350 per team. It's a price Webster says draws lots of attention from teams looking to enter.
"We get a lot of people saying, 'Is that half the price? Is it a deposit? What's the full price?' But we keep it affordable, so teams can come out to enjoy it," he said. "We do this every year for the kids. The smiles, the laughs. It's the reason we started it."
The tournament is named for one of the club's members who passed away in 2016. Rob McCormick was a Life Member of the Lac La Biche club and was the main organizer of the pond hockey tournament.
Webster and the 35 members of the community's Kinsmen group will spend the better part of the next month preparing the ice for the day of minor hockey action. It's a task that the group has welcomed — along with many volunteers from the community.
"It's a team-effort," said Webster. "We have local help to plot out the eight rinks, then the municipality clears the areas for the rinks, the on-ice parking lot and the places where the team tents go."
Team tents? Yup. Each team will have its own, on-ice change room in the form of large canvas tents with heaters.
"The kids really seem to like the tents. It's like a village wrapped around the hockey rinks," said Webster. "I think it creates lots of good memories for families."
More details on the tournament, including registration and sponsorship opportunities can be found at the Lac La Biche Kinsmen Club's website here.