BANGOR, Maine — Six hockey rinks spanning 72,000 square feet of ice are under construction inside Bass Park in preparation for the first Paul Bunyan Pond Hockey Tournament.
Ryan McPike, director of the tournament that is sponsored by the Bangor Area Breakfast Rotary Club, said he is eagerly anticipating the first of what he hopes will become an annual event.
“Pond hockey is expanding and becoming a popular spectator sport across the country,” McPike said. “We expect this event to grow year after year and we hope more and more teams will want to join us.”
The tournament, which will be held Saturday, Jan. 30, and Sunday, Jan. 31, will consist of teams of four to six players competing in five divisions: an open division, an 18- to 20-year-old division, a 40-year-old-plus division, a 50-year-old-plus division and a women’s division.
A heated tent also is being set up where fans can buy food, drinks and pond hockey merchandise.
One team that doesn’t fit into any of the five identified divisions already is issuing a friendly challenge. The Bangor Area Sled Hogs, a team composed of members with disabilities who play hockey on specially designed handicapped-friendly sleds, wants to get in on the action.
“Other teams with physical disabilities are welcome to play against us, but the nonhandicapped will play us at a real disadvantage, if they have the guts even to try,” joked team member Mike Noyes.
The sleds enable players to sit and propel their way forward using their short hockey sticks. McPike conceded that the Bangor Area Sled Hogs should have the right to play in the tournament, but he doesn’t know if any teams will be up to the challenge
“If players without disabilities dare to play against the Bangor Area Sled Hogs, they could be dismally defeated and totally humiliated,” McPike said.
Proceeds of the Paul Bunyan Pond Hockey Tournament will be donated by the Bangor Area Breakfast Rotary Club to Camp CaPella, which serves children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities. Many of the Bangor Area Sled Hogs have ties to the camp.
Executive Director Dana Mosher is excited about the pond hockey tournament but said he’ll be rooting for only one team.
“Watch out for them,” he said of the Bangor Area Sled Hogs. “They are going to tear up the ice.”