The Great Lakes Pond Hockey Classic is an important annual Superior Amateur Hockey Association (SAHA) fundraiser.
All net proceeds are dedicated to help keep youth player rates affordable. Pond Hockey is also an important community event to promote the City of Superior and the surrounding Twin Ports area.
The Great Lakes Classic Pond Hockey History
by Mike McCoshen
The Great Lakes Classic Pond Hockey Championship was conceived in 2004. It all began after I read a February 14, 2004 New York Times article titled “Pond and a Puck Are Enough for Hockey Purists” by Charles McGrath. Pond and Puck
The article began by describing Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, a little Canadian village (population 1,200) where 320 hardy players (80 teams) had gathered to play hockey the old-fashioned way -- on bumpy natural ice, in falling snow, in face-stinging wind and biting, toe-numbing cold.*
Players were paid less than the N.H.L. stars -- the weekend cost them money, in fact -- but they had more fun. They also got to drink beer between periods if they chose.*
All the players, even those from the United States, found themselves caught up in something that was part a small-town festival and part a collective exercise in nostalgia.*
The event was a fundraiser to replace the village’s antiquated indoor ice rink
The article captivated my attention, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The Superior Amateur Hockey Association (SAHA) had been informed not long before that our City of Superior funding was going to be cut and we were looking for ways to replace that funding. I was President of SAHA at the time and I just kept thinking what a great idea, let’s forget about a golf tournament, everybody does a golf tournament, let’s do this. After a couple of weeks of thinking about it, I contacted Danny Braun, the Director of the World Pond Hockey Championship in Plaster Rock. “I began the conversation by congratulating him on the success of his tournament. I then asked if he had any problem with us doing something similar. He did not. At that point I approached the Executive Committee of SAHA which include the Past President, Dick Berthiaume, Vice President, Bob Zimmerman and Treasurer, Dave Holcombe. After some discussion, the committee was all in. We then held a closed session meeting prior to the April 2004 Annual Meeting with the entire SAHA board. Again, everyone agreed we should move forward and that the proceeds would go to Capital Improvement Fund. We did decide not to go public until we had a plan in place. In August of 2004 we held a Press Conference with Mayor Ross at Barkers Island announcing the 1st Annual Great Lakes Classic Pond Hockey Championship would be held in January of 2005!
The inaugural tournament saw 30 teams participate!