hockey teams teams hit the well-polished ice pads at Fisherman’s Wharf on Hay River last weekend to mark the return of the Polar Pond Hockey tournment.
Saturday evening (March 12) featured a special alumni night and live auction featuring political leaders, tournament organizers and athletes which helped raise toward a new electronic ice-resurfacing machine for the Town of Hay River.
The weekend was highlighted by elite hockey players supporting the international Save Pond Hockey organization’s effort to raise awareness about how climate change is affecting pond hockey.
Former Edmonton Oilers Craig MacTavish, Andrew Ference, and Curtis Glencross along with Canadian Women’s Olympic -gold-medalist Meghan Agosta all added to the excitement of the event, including with their involvement in an all-star game with local players, March 13.
Ference, a Stanley Cup winner with the Boston Bruins in 2011 and former captain of the Edmonton Oilers, made a strong connection between playing hockey and the need to respectful to the environment as well as others.
During his alumni night speech March 12, he recalled his time with the Calgary Flames in 2004 and befriending environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki.
“We had a really good group of guys that cared about doing the right thing,” he explained.
“We talk a lot about respect in hockey and how important it is to show respect for your teammates and for your opponents and for your community. At the end of the day, that’s really how I see it as hockey players. We have a duty to respect our land and Mother Earth and to understand our connection to that land.”
MacTavish said that he was happy to contribute to the live auction of memorabilia, play and support the sport and learn a bit about climate change in the North, too.
“It was a fantastic weekend and a lot of fun for everybody,” he said. “Great community spirit and it seemed everybody came out to the live auction, which was fantastic. It was well supported and we raised a lot of money for local charities.
“This is what Canada is all about.”
MacTavish said some of the challenges the North faces as it comes to climate change came to him as a surprise, including the rate at which the environment is changing due to global temperatures.
Preserving pond hockey is important in reinforcing “the fabric of Canada,” he said.
“Pond hockey is great for the development of hockey players. When they’re out there playing, that is how you get good.”