This Saturday, February 25, marks the second annual Big Apple Pond Hockey Classic, held on The Pond at Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan.
“There’s a strong hockey culture in New York City,” says tournament director Grant Hewit. “Many players would get together with their teammates from NYC and play in the pond hockey events around the country and in Canada, but I’m sure many players never expected to be able to play pond hockey in the city.”
The event, which will feature eight teams battling for pond hockey supremacy on the halved Bryant Park ice surface, blends the hustle and bustle of the city with the peaceful serenity of a day on the local pond. Dwarfed by skyscrapers and surrounded by the ever-moving traffic of the city, the BAPHC allows participants to slow down and rewind the clock a bit.
“I really think we’ve got something special going on down here in NYC,” said Hewit. “It’s a mixture of the nostalgic, romantic side of hockey — playing outside, in a style that many grew up playing — coupled with the environment of playing smack in the middle of midtown Manhattan.”
To commemorate the event’s second year, organizers tabbed friend and local artist Vincent Ricasio to create a limited-run print. An accomplished artist in the world of lacrosse and owner of The Art of Lax, Vinnie agreed to produce a print that would capture not only the spirit of the game, but this particular game’s location as well.
“Over and over last year guys used the term “surreal” to describe playing in Bryant Park,” says Hewit. “I wanted to find a way to encompass the event all year, and the print just made sense to me.”
The print, seen below in its various stages and available at the event, depicts an old-fashioned one-on-one, with the artist’s creativity showing in the shadows. Instead of the players being mirrored on the ice surface, Ricasio used the silhouettes of two notable New York City skyscrapers.
“I wanted to use symbolic imagery to capture the spirit of Pond Hockey and the urban environment of NYC,” says Ricasio. “I figured the shadows of the two skaters should be iconic NYC landmark buildings.”
The print is not the only enhancement to this year’s event, however. The tournament champion will be given an invite to next year’s International Pond Hockey Championships in Quebec, and the title game will be overseen by New Jersey Devils alum Ken Daneyko. There will also be a post-tourney celebration at The Australian, located on 38th between 5th and 6th Avenues.
In additon, Hewit’s event has teamed up to raise funds and awareness for the Hockey in Newark program. Hockey in Newark, which was profiled for Steve Chernoski’s Hockey In America – Part I, uses hockey as a foundation to promote academic success, good citizenship, and teamwork. The non-profit, which was established in 2003 and which has the backing of New Jersey Devils ownership, recent announced that two of its players would continue on to play college hockey. Their incredible history can be seen here.
So if you find yourself in midtown Manhattan this weekend, nestled in the shadows of behemoth skyscrapers and amidst the honking horns and squeaking brakes, listen for the sounds of rubber-disc-on-wood and the laughter of grown men acting like kids. It’s here that you’ll find Grant Hewit and his Big Apple Pond Hockey Classic. Stop by, say hi, grab a limited-run print, and breathe in the majestic beauty of rural North America, right in the middle of New York City.
Think you know which two buildings are represented in Vincent Ricasio’s drawing? Send us an email with your guess by 11:59pm on Friday, February 24th. We’ll draw one person’s name from a pool of correct guesses to win some BAPHC schwag.