The Hippo


Apr 26, 2019








A previous 1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey Tournament. Courtesy photo.

6th annual 1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey Tournament

Where: White Park, 1 White St., Concord
When: Friday, Jan. 29, from 9 a.m to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 30, from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 31, 9 a.m. to noon
Cost: Free admission

Hockey heritage
Concord hosts annual pond hockey tournament

By Angie Sykeny

 Concord’s famed winter sporting event, the 1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey Tournament, returns for its annual three-day takeover of White Park from Friday, Jan. 29, through Sunday, Jan. 31. 

White Park Pond will be sectioned into eight rinks to allow for multiple simultaneous games. The tournament will progress round-robin style, culminating with semifinals and finals on Sunday. Each team is guaranteed two games on both Friday and Saturday, and additional games on Sunday if they qualify.
Though this is only the sixth year of the tournament, Concord’s ice hockey history began over 200 years ago at St. Paul’s School. As one of the earliest institutions to play ice hockey, St. Paul’s used the term “black ice” to describe the type of smooth, transparent ice that formed naturally on the pond on which they played. Many believe the first organized ice hockey game in the United States was held on Nov. 17, 1883, at the school’s Lower Pond. 
In 2010, the Black Ice Pond Hockey Association was assembled to create an event that would commemorate Concord’s notable role in ice hockey history.  
“There started to be some resurgence of outdoor hockey with the NHL adding outdoor games and the growing popularity of other pond hockey tournaments,” said Chris Brown, president of the Black Ice Pond Hockey Association. “So, with Concord having such a rich hockey history and an ideal location at White Park, well, why wouldn’t we have something like that in Concord?”
Divisions for the tournament include men’s and women’s 18+ open and recreational, men’s 35+ and men’s 50+. Teams can have up to seven players on their rosters, but the games are played with four against four. There are no goalies and no nets; goals are scored by getting the puck inside a 6-foot-wide wooden box through one of the two 12-inch openings.  
The winning team in each division will win the Hobey Stick Award, named in honor of Hobey Baker, an ice hockey legend and Hall of Famer who learned and played the sport as a student at St. Paul’s. 
Nearly 100 teams are competing this year, many of which are locally based, but there are some that travel in from other states, including a team that comes from Miami every year.  
“A lot of people play because they have a connection to Concord,” Brown said. “Either they grew up here or they learned to skate at White Park, and every year they come home to play at Black Ice. It’s like an old home day. You can count on seeing people you know at Black Ice.” 
Young hockey players will also get a chance to shine. On Friday evening and Saturday throughout the day, Concord youth hockey teams with kids ages 5 to 12 will be playing their own games on a rink to the side of the pond.
“It’s a great element we’ve added to get the next generation of potential Black Ice players excited about being part of the event,” Brown said. 
Spectators and even those who aren’t big hockey fans can enjoy the tournament’s carnival-like atmosphere. There will be a heated tent with food vendors, tables where people can sit and eat and windows with views of the action. The tent will also have live music from a few different bands on Friday and Saturday afternoon. A bonfire will be set up Friday and Saturday evening, and there will be a fireworks display on Friday at 7 p.m. New this year, there will also be ice and snow sculptures.
For those who have to step away or can’t make it to the tournament, there will be live scoring for each game available online and via mobile device. 
A shuttle service will be provided on Friday and Saturday, running to and from the park and stopping at multiple downtown restaurants. 
For some additional pond hockey spirit, 603 Brewery has developed a specialty Black Ice American Ale in honor of the tournament, which is available for purchase at more than a dozen Concord area markets. 
“Black Ice has become our unofficial citywide winter celebration,” Brown said. “In a city that, for the most part, gets bypassed for winter recreation because of ski resorts and [other winter sports] up north, we do have hockey, and that’s a good excuse to go out and celebrate.”  

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