SIDNEY — The Maine Pond Hockey Classic, an annual fundraising tournament supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA of Greater Waterville, will be held Feb. 8-10 at the Snow Pond Center for the Arts on Snow Pond on Messalonskee Lake.

Registration opened Oct. 1 and will run through Jan. 8; teams registering before Dec. 1 save $50, according to a news release from event organizers.

Each team is allowed up to eight players on its roster, plays four on four without goalies or on-ice officials, and plays three pool play games for seeding followed by a single elimination tournament.

The Maine Pond Hockey Classic began in 2013 with 14 teams on China Lake and has grown into one of Maine’s biggest winter events, according to the release. Now, in its sixth year and fourth at Snow Pond Center for the Arts, organizers expect more than 80 teams; that’s a 25 percent increase over last year’s 65 teams, according to the release.

“We really have our players to thank for that,” said Director Patrick Guerette, according to the release. “Word of mouth brings more teams coming from even further away every year.”

Returning players include teams from Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, and Maine.

“We had a team from Canada, one from North Carolina, and the cast members of Cabin Masters play last year,” said Kim Fleming, who serves as the entertainment director, according to the release. “We are really excited about the breadth and trajectory of this tournament.”

The growing popularity brings with it partnerships with local businesses across the state. Spectrum Healthcare Partners is the Classic’s MVP Sponsor.

“The Maine Pond Hockey Classic gets people of all ages outside, in the middle of winter, being active playing a game they love. This truly embodies our goals of keeping Mainers healthy, active, enjoying outdoor activities year round,” said Kelly David, Spectrum’s marketing and public relations director, according to the release.

Hat Trick sponsors include Camden National Bank, Bud Light and United Rental.

“We’re proud to partner with the Alfond Youth Center in their efforts to raise funds through healthy, outdoor activities,” said Renee Smyth, executive vice president, chief experience and marketing officer of Camden National Bank, according to the release. “Mid-Maine offers so many wonderful opportunities to unite young and mature athletes to help promote strong health, wellness and camaraderie, while increasing the visibility of this dynamic area.”

The tournament offers a division for every level of player: Open “A,” Open “B,” Recreational, Women’s Open, Women’s Rec, 30-plus, 40-plus, 50-plus and “Just for Fun.” Each division winner will receive a prize pack including discounted entry in the next year’s tournament, Skate Shop credit, and one-of-a-kind trophy featuring the State of Maine cut from old hockey sticks.

“What better representation of Maine than taking something old and discarded and turning it into something awesome,” said Guerette, according to the release.

The winter festival-like atmosphere for players and spectators alike includes a minimum of eight rinks, community skating area, beer garden, fire pits, music, tournament store, food vendors, Polar Bear Dip on Saturday morning, and more.

“When you host players from away, you want to consider the entire player experience,” said Bert Languet, volunteer director of event operations, according to the release. “Snow Pond Center for the Arts provides terrific amenities — ample parking, drive-on ice access, and heated indoor spaces for our pop-up store and breaks between games. The players really appreciate these conveniences.”

There are several volunteer opportunities available; contact Patrick Guerette, tournament director, at [email protected]. For more information, visit mainepondhockey.org and follow the fun on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mainepondhockey, or on twitter @mainepondhockey.

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