Ian Clark's On Hockey: Game goes back to its roots in Concord pond tournament
There's a small city on the pond at Concord's White Park, a community built on the love of ice hockey.
The third annual Black Ice Pond Hockey Championship is winding down Sunday, the finishing touches of a three-day event that has brought dozens of teams and players from all over to enjoy hockey the way it used to be played.
It's a special event for many of the players and perhaps for the Menard family most of all.
Fathers, sons, brothers, sisters, nephews, Menards of all ages were playing in the tournament either on the Galoots in the men's 18-plus open division and the GAL-oots in the women's division.
"Where Menards are gathered there's hockey action," said Cathy Menard of Concord.
The Menard name is one that carries some weight in hockey circles. Cathy's dad George coached St. Lawrence University's men's team for 15 seasons, amassing a record of 204-127-14 with five NCAA tournament bids and an ECAC championship.
So yeah, hockey is in their blood.
"We've got my two sons, two nephews, a younger brother, my sisters," Peter Menard said. "It's different generations still playing together. When we get together, we always play hockey. Family gatherings, weddings, you name it."
Although Peter admits he had to be talked into participating this time out.
"The kids wanted to do it. I didn't want to play this year. I'm 61 for crying out loud," Peter Menard said with a laugh. "It's good to get together. Our sisters play and we cheer them on and they cheer us on. My mother's here somewhere, too."
The event even brings Menards in from New York.
"It's a very happy reunion," said Mary Menard of Shushan, N.Y., near the Vermont border. "We grew up playing hockey together."
The frigid conditions have made for great ice for the event.
"The cold weather is welcome. It's not that bad once you get out there and get going and get warmed up," said Steve Delia of Concord and the Ladder Seven team in the men's 35-plus division. "The ice has been fantastic."
Delia said he enjoys the Black Ice event for the camaraderie that hockey is all about.
"It's a good, competitive game of pond hockey," Delia said. "You get out there and skate and are competitive and after the game you shake hands and enjoy a beverage with the other team."
The tournament concludes today with championship games at 10:32 a.m. and 11:18 a.m.
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Manchester Monarchs rookie forward Tyler Toffoli will be taking part in the AHL All-Star game skills competition Sunday night at 7 p.m.
Toffoli is the only Monarch in the all-star festivities. You can seen the all-star game itself on NESN-plus at 7 p.m. Monday night.
The Monarchs are off for five days during the all-star break and will get back to action for a Pennsylvania road trip to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday night and Hershey Saturday night.
Manchester (21-18-4) lost at Connecticut on Friday night, 4-1, to snap their four-game winning streak and played at Portland Saturday night.
Ian Clark covers the pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.