Canceling the 2016 Montana Pond Hockey Classic in February was one of the most difficult decisions of my career. Faced with the whims of Mother Nature and unseasonably mild temperatures, the Kalispell Convention & Visitor Bureau and our partner Pond Hockey Classic risked disappointing hundreds of players, our local sponsors and the community. And Kalispell’s hoteliers, restaurants and shops would not experience the economic benefit they were counting on in the off-season. But on the other hand, we risked players on unsafe ice.
When making that decision, I did not imagine the positive sentiment we experienced in the aftermath. Sixty-two of the 70 teams registered chose to transfer their registration to next year’s tournament, guaranteeing us a full 2017 tournament, and a handful of teams from California, the New England states and Canada kept their plans to travel to Kalispell. We welcomed those who came at an impromptu gathering at Moose’s Saloon on February 18th, shared a beer and thanked them for understanding the difficult decision we had to make. Those teams didn’t let the opportunity go to waste and instead of lacing their hockey skates, they skied at Whitefish Mountain Resort, went snowshoeing in Glacier National Park and enjoyed several local restaurants and breweries.
After two years of unexpectedly warm February temperatures, we recently committed to move the 2017 Montana Pond Hockey Classic a month earlier to January 20 – 22, 2017. We look forward to welcoming teams from California to Alberta, as well as our own. In the meantime our fingers are crossed that winter 2017 will bring solid ice, lots of great pond hockey and the camaraderie of the international community we’ve built.
Diane Medler, Director
Kalispell Convention & Visitor Bureau
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