Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament Brings Players Together Year After Year

St. Ignace Businesses See Big Boost From Tournament Traffic

It’s all about hockey, and beer, on the ice in St. Ignace this weekend for the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament!

It brings hockey players from across the country, and even around the globe, into the UP to battle it out on frozen Lake Huron.

From the Rubber Puckies, to Daft Puck, and some other “punny” team names we don’t dare to print, hockey players from all over are in St. Ignace for the weekend.

“I actually met them playing hockey,” said Scott Templeton.

Scott, Daniel, Jacob and Johnathon played roller hockey together in high school, with Jessica as their faithful cheerleader.

This tournament has been their annual reunion since 2010.

“After school every one goes their separate way, now we get together once a year to play pond hockey, and drink beer,” said Daniel Westendorf.

All have moved away from their hometown of Tecumseh, some stayed in the mitten, others went to Ohio and Washington.

“Now that everyone is far apart, hockey brings us together and we can still remain friends and still have a good time,” said Scott Templeton.

The good times roll on, thanks in part to the many volunteers coordinated by the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau.

“There’s a lot that goes into this,” said Lora Brown, St. Ignace Visitors Bureau Executive Director. “It’s just so unique to everyone.”

This year there are 184 teams, nearly 1200 hockey players, which can say they’ve hit a slap shot on a Great Lake.

“They come from all over the country, and we’ve even had teams from Czechoslovakia, Canada, so they fly in here, drive in here from all over,” Brown said.

For this team, it’s not about winning or losing, or far they’ve come….

“At the end of the day, it’s hanging out with friends, these guys live on the other side of the country and I don’t get to see them that often,” said Jacob Dieter.

With all those visitors in St. Ignace for the weekend, area businesses are seeing a boost.

The St. Ignace Visitors Bureau says it’s one of the biggest events of the year.

They say many area businesses are able to stay open during the winter because of the tournament traffic.

The Mackinac Grille is just down the road from all the action.

They say this is by far, the busiest weekend of the year for them.

“This weekend usually starts out our winter season,” said manager on duty Ronald Lee. “It’s the number one weekend for the winter, for the most part we look forward to it every year.”

Lee says he expects Mackinac Grille to packed all weekend long.