SIDNEY — Hockey players generally are regarded as some of the toughest athletes on the planet. They’d have to be in order to brave some of the coldest weather in years Sunday during the third Maine Pond Hockey Classic in Sidney.

“We have some very tough players and some very tough volunteers, too,” tournament director Patrick Guerette said. “We had a couple of teams that didn’t play today because of the weather.”

The weather didn’t stop a total of about 225 players and 34 teams from participating in the three-day tournament. Guerette said the games were shortened to two 15-minute halves today to limit the players’ exposure to the weather, and the wind made it difficult to keep everyone warm; but nobody complained.

“We’re just going to keep making it a fun experience with a good atmosphere,” he said. “We hope it keeps building.”

Inside the warming tent, players and their friends and families enjoyed warm drinks, cold beer and conversation before heading back into the elements. Joseph Hague, head coach of the boy’s ice hockey team at Messalonskee High School, said he remembered playing outdoors as a boy in sub-zero weather.

“It brings you back,” Hague said. “We’ve been smiling ear-to-ear, have met some great guys and have had a really good time.”


His team, the Granite Iceholes, participated for the first time, and he said he expects to play again with his childhood friends from Oakland.

“I’m sure my wife will hate me being out here (on Valentine’s Day), but when you can get together with a great group of guys, you have camaraderie and have a good time,” Hague said.

Players came from across the state and from other New England states as well. Adam Routhier came from outside of Burlington, Vermont, to play with friends on the Mad Hatter’s Pub team, which won the recreational division title. He said the weather didn’t bother him, in part because of his beer.

“I think they’ve done a great job putting this tournament together,” Routhier said. “I used to play at a park on an outdoor rink, so you’re used to pushing the puck with a pile of snow with it. It’s the best.”

The event also gave family members a chance to see their sons or fathers or brothers or uncles doing something they don’t usually get to see.

Ray Toutain, of Lewiston, said one of his sons now lives in Boston, so he wanted to come up to Sidney and watch him and his other son play on the pond.


“It’s cool,” said Toutain, a former hockey coach. “We used to play outside and practice outside, so this reminds me of those days.” He said it was obvious that the tournament organizers had put a lot of thought into the event.

Not all the teams were made up of recreational players just having fun.

Adam Laite, a native of Howie Center, Nova Scotia, was playing in the tournament for the first time. He and several other former teammates at the University of New England won the Open A division, and their team, the Ducks, scored the most goals overall, including 62 in the first three games.

“I did a lot of (pond hockey) growing up,” Laite said. “As soon as we saw this tournament, we immediately wanted to get a team together.”

Laite, who lives in Old Orchard Beach, is playing with some college teammates and other friends. He said it is nothing like playing college hockey or in a recreational league.

“You’re out in the elements, and you have to work together more as a team, which is fun,” Laite said. “It’s been a great time having us all up here battling together.”


Other division winners included Bauer Head in the Open B and Joseph’s Sporting Goods in the 40-and-over bracket.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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