A Hay River hockey association is helping the town go green with a new environmentally friendly Zamboni.

Polar Pond Hockey, which recently held its first full tournament in five years, has donated $25,000 to help purchase an electrically-powered ice resurfacing machine for the Aurora Ford Arena.

Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson accepted the cheque from Terry Rowe, president of Polar Pond Hockey, at a council meeting on July 12.

“We were super excited to host the event again,” said Rowe. “We are very happy to have a good partnership with the Town of Hay River and to be able to donate back to the community. We will continue to do that, hopefully for many years to come.”

The donated funds were raised at the Polar Pond Hockey tournament in March, he said, when the regional tournament partnered with Save Pond Hockey, a Finnish organization, to raise funds and awareness for the fight against climate change.

“We were able to host without any hiccups and it was an incredible event,” said Rowe. “We also got to share a lot of information on climate change awareness, specifically here in the North and how that’s affecting us firsthand.”

Additionally, Polar Pond Hockey was also “able to raise some extra money from a dance and a few different things that we did,” to support flood-affected residents in Hay River and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation with a $10,000 donation to United Way NWT, he said.

The tournament has been disrupted several times over the last few years “whether it was climate change related or Covid,” said Rowe.

The three-day tournament, in which four-man teams from across the North compete on outdoor rinks, had not been held in its entirety since 2017.

It was called off in 2018 as the South Slave was hosting the Arctic Winter Games, scrapped in 2019 when unseasonably warm weather melted the rinks and cancelled the next two years due to the coronavirus – though an abridged tournament was held in 2020, he said.

So partnering this year’s tournament with the Save Pond Hockey event made it “extra special,” said Row.

A number of hockey stars visited the community during the event, including Andrew Ference, Craig MacTavish and Canadian Olympic hero Meghan Agosta.

“They got welcomed at the airport by probably about 100 kids,” said Rowe, and participated in many activities around town from visiting seniors to playing in an All-Star Game, “so it was a pretty cool event.”

Rowe said the original purpose of the Polar Pond Hockey tournament was “just to have a good time and to break up the cold winter months a little bit,” but it has also made substantial donations to the community since its founding in 2008.

Recently it gifted $50,000 toward the construction of the Fisherman’s Wharf Pavilion, he said, in addition to small donations to local Olympian Brendan Green, the Hay River Minor Hockey Association and other groups.

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