The Hammond Lumber team, in red, white and black jerseys, compete Saturday against the DBT G-Boys of Gorham, in red, white and blue, during the Maine Pond Hockey Classic on Messalonskee Lake in Sidney.

SIDNEY — The ice wasn’t optimal for the Maine Pond Hockey Classic Saturday, but that didn’t stop 560 players from flocking to Messalonskee Lake to help raise money for the Alfond Youth & Community Center.

Dimitri Dibiase, playing for the Hammond Lumber Co. team against the DBT G-Boys of Gorham, said he was enjoying the game though the ice was a bit difficult to skate on.

“I would probably call this a little slushy — a little Italian ice-ish,” said Dibiase, 25, of Lewiston.

His was one of 70 teams from all over the country to take part in the 11th annual 3-day event, which started Friday and will end at noon Sunday. Dibiase said it was the first time he had played as part of a team and had been inspired to do so by his younger sisters who played hockey.

Players were upbeat and chatty, laughing often as they competed, with some having removed their skates to play in their boots because the ice was choppy and slushy. Each team was guaranteed to play three games and the top teams will be eligible to take part in elimination tournaments on Sunday.

At halftime during his game Saturday morning, Dibiase said he was enjoying the event, though his team was behind, 7-2.


Dimitri Dibiase of Lewiston and a member of the Hammond Lumber team takes a breather at halftime during the Maine Pond Hockey Classic on Messalonskee Lake in Sidney.

“It’s been nice,” he said. “I wish the ice was a little harder but I can’t complain. “It’s sunny and warm.”

By late morning, it was about 38 degrees on the lake abutting the Snow Pond Center for the Arts off Pond Road. The ice was 11 inches thick with shallow pools of water on top of it in some places. The morning started out overcast but by mid-morning, the sun appeared accompanied by a blue sky.

Between players, spectators and volunteers, about 1,000 people each day had attended the event, according to tournament director Patrick Guerette.

“It’s okay,” Guerette acknowledged, when asked how things were going. “It’s warm and the ice is not great as far as playing hockey goes, but we have a festive atmosphere which is good.”

Maine Pond Hockey Classic tournament Director Patrick Guerette oversees the games Saturday on Messalonskee Lake in Sidney. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

Guerette said there were five competitive divisions this year. Organizers hoped to raise $50,000 for the Alfond Center. Last year they raised about $30,000, but $40,000 is typical, he said. Other fundraising events included an ice golf event with a hole-in-one contest and a merchandise sale in the lodge which featured hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and other items.

Several rinks were marked out on the ice, which was dotted with heated tents teams could use for a fee, a beer tent, warming center and fire pits. Parking was $10 a day or $20 for the three days. Live music with a deejay was scheduled for 3-5 p.m. Saturday.


Rob Burnell of Augusta,d a member of the One Hit Wonders team, plays Saturday against the Brunswick Dragons during the Maine Pond Hockey Classic on Messalonskee Lake in Sidney. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

Before heading back onto the ice to resume playing the Hammond Lumber Co. team, Jon Duhaime, 36, a who was No. 47 for the DBT G-Boys, said skating was difficult on the ice Saturday.

“I’m skating slow because I’m getting married next month, so I’ve been told not to get injured,” he said.

Dibiase, no. 14 for Hammond Lumber, said his team lost Friday night to the Portland Firefighters, which had a lot of young players. But just being able to play, and for such a good cause, was great, Dibiase said. The event benefits the Alfond Center, which comprises the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA based in Waterville, which serves some 5,000 youths.

“I know we’re (Hammond Lumber) a big sponsor and we like supporting young people,” Dibiase said. “They’ve got to have the fun and they’ve got to experience things, too.”

On an adjacent rink, Linda Burnell of Augusta was taking photos of her son, Rob Burnell, 31, who was playing for the One Hit Wonders, a team that included a lot of his former junior high and high school classmates.

Skaters slide around the ice Saturday at the Maine Pond Hockey Classic on Messalonskee Lake, also known as Snow Pond, in Sidney, seen from the hill near the lodge at Snow Pond Center for the Arts. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

“Rob designed the T-shirts and he is a musician as well,” Linda Burnell said. “He has a band, the Rob Burnell Band, and he is a guitarist and singer.”

She said she enjoys watching him and his friends play.

“It’s fun,” she said. “It’s like bringing back memories of watching him in high school.

In the parking lot, registration plates were from states including Florida, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Tennessee. Guerette said the player who came the farthest distance is from Australia.

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