Happy 2011 to the Backyard-Hockey.com community! I hope 2010 was great for you, and I hope 2011 is even better. We closed out the year with a bang, as December saw nearly 8,000 visitors grace our pages. It turns out that hockey people really like reading about hockey when it’s cold out. Who knew?
On the backyard rink front, a lot of folks in the New England area were treated to an early start to the season, though we’re in the midst of an unseasonably warm stretch as I type this. Most people love this balmy weather. Those grumpy folks glaring angrily at the weather report were backyard rinkbuilders and pond hockey players. Yes, you can ignore us. We’ll be happy again this week.
Onward to the year’s first Puckdrop!
- Our friends at the US Pond Hockey Championships have commissioned internationally renowned artist Chris Speakman to create the first annual official limited edition USPHC print — you can see this year’s on the right. Each print is hand made on quality 100% cotton paper, and will be editioned and signed by the artist. Only 400 have been produced, but they have shirts available as well. To purchase a print for $50 or a shirt for $20, visit this page. Somewhere, Al Borland has a tear in his eye.
- Our other friends at the Pond Hockey Classic have expanded their line of PHC gear to include all Earthtec apparel. We showed you the Slashkin Slapcheckov shirt last month, but if you visit this link, you can see the full Earthtec line. Once you find the article of clothing you dig, Earthtec will add a 1.5″ round PHC patch for no additional charge. Can we do another Christmas this month? Between the PHC gear and the USPHC print, I think I’d like to take a mulligan on my wish list.
- The NHL held its 2011 Winter Classic over the weekend in Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, with Washington besting the hometown Penguins 3-1. The game was delayed seven hours due to warm weather and rain, though the delay may have helped the game’s ratings. AOL Fanhouse reports that the game averaged 4.65 million viewers, good for first place out of the four major networks from 8-11pm. Fanhouse suggests that future games could be scheduled in the prime time slot, though the NHL has yet to comment. Outdoor hockey is the best. Outdoor hockey under the lights is the bestest.
- Speaking of the Winter Classic, here’s a great story about Caps’ defenseman (and 2009 IIHF World Juniors hero) John Carlson. Or, more specifically, his mother. Everything I’ve heard and read about Carlson implies that he’s a pretty stand-up guy, and after reading this post from OnFrozenBlog, you’ll have a good idea why. It also shows that whether it’s pee-wee, high school, or millionaire professional, a hockey mom is still a hockey mom.
- Among the 75 pond hockey tournaments on our comprehensive list, I only know of one that has its own beer. That would be the 1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey Championships, scheduled for January 28-30, 2011 in Concord, New Hampshire. In commemoration of the first-time event, Vermont’s own Long Trail Brewing Company has created Black Ice Ale. They’ll be tapping the first keg of Black Ice at Concord’s Barley House at 5 pm on Wednesday, January 5th. They’ll follow that up with a keg-tapping at Cheers an hour later. Busy (or married) on Wednesday? New Hampshirites can grab a pint of Black Ice Ale at a number of Capital City watering holes. Details here.
- Don’t forget about Restore Hockey’s used equipment drives. This week the Restore squad will be at the Mullins Center on the campus of UMass Amherst for the Saturday, January 8th tilt against UNH. For more information about restore, check out our article or their homepage.
- In case you missed it on Facebook and Twitter late last week, we’ve added a new product to our Backyard-Hockey.com Store. It’s the “I’d rather be playing POND HOCKEY” bumper sticker. We’ve also lowered the price on that and our other stickers to $4, and you can get 20.11% off your entire order (including tees, hoodies, and mugs) by using the discount code ‘2011NEWYEARS’ when you check out. The discount is good until January 6th.
- Lastly, and sadly, two pond hockey events that took place in 2010 will not have 2011 iterations. The Labatt Blue Vermont Pond Hockey Regionals scheduled for next weekend in Okemo, VT, have been cancelled, as has the Murray Sutherland Memorial Pond Hockey Tournament, originally scheduled for the last weekend in February.
It’s a busy time of year in our universe, and by the time you ready next Monday’s Puck Drop, the first tournaments of the year will be in the books. Stick around (and check out our Facebook and Twitter links, to the left) for the latest and greatest in the world of purist puck!