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“Frozen Faceoff” Announces Dates, Divisions, Dimensions

Sadly, the tournament has been cancelled due to ice quality concerns.

The surname “Falla” is to outdoor hockey what “Scorsese” is to mobster movies, so it should come as no surprise that another member of the Falla lineage is helping bring the roots of our game to the masses. Patrick Falla, brother to Jack and uncle to Brian, has teamed up with Ben Crosby to bring you the 2011 Frozen Faceoff Pond Hockey Tournament. This will be the second edition of the Ashfield, MA tournament, and will take place in late January. For the full details, see the full tournament press release below.

P.O. Box 165
Shelburne Falls, MA 01370

For Immediate Release:

Ashfield, MA
Ben Crosby and Patrick Falla, organizers of the highly successful Frozen Faceoff Pond Hockey Tournament, have announced the dates and expansion for the 2011 event. “We are expanding the Frozen Faceoff to two 24 team tournaments on January 29th and 30th. In 2010 we had to turn teams away, so by offering a 24 team Expert Tourney and a 24 team Intermediate Tourney we will accommodate all players and all skill levels,” said Falla. The Expert Tournament will be held Saturday, January 29th and the Intermediate Tournament will be held Sunday, January 30th.

The number of teams is not the only part of the Frozen Faceoff that is expanding, as Crosby explains: “The one critique from 2010 was the rink size. This year we are expanding the rink size and the number of rinks. We will build six rinks on the western end of Ashfield Lake plus a skating area in front of the Ashfield Lake House for the community.”

Last year’s inaugural Frozen Faceoff saw 400 players and spectators come to Ashfield for the day many of whom made a full day of hockey, skating with family, and enjoying the lake in midwinter. “After a few initial ice fishing holes in the rinks last year, the community really got behind us. Ben and I have had many people come up to us since last year asking if we planned on building the rinks and having The Frozen Faceoff again. Once we were able to get the circulation back into our fingers we decided to make this an annual event,” said Falla.

The 2010 Frozen Faceoff saw participants from Boston, Albany, Vermont, Connecticut, Berkshire and Franklin counties.

The Frozen Faceoff is a 4 on 4 pond hockey tournament with no goalies, slap shots, lifting of the puck or checking. Instead of nets each team protects or shoots at two six inch slots built into six foot wide pine boxes. Each team is guaranteed three games with the potential of six games if they go to the finals. Teams are made up of six to eight players. Players must be 21 or older to enter. For more information or to register a team contact Pat Falla and Ben Crosby at frozenfaceoff@yahoo.com or visit them on Facebook at Frozen Faceoff.

Press contact:
Patrick Falla

Signups for last year’s participants will happen first, with openings for the general population to follow shortly thereafter. Keep informed by linking up with Pat and Ben on the tournament’s Facebook page.

We’ll see you in Ashfield!

“Hockey In The USA” Teaser Video Clip

A couple weeks ago we told you about Hockey in the USA – Part I, the documentary by New Jersey filmmaker Steve Chernoski. The film, set to debut online on Thanksgiving Day, follows Chernoski up the East Coast to see what effect, if any, the Olympic hockey tournament had on the American hockey landscape.

This week we bring you a four-minute teaser clip from the documentary. This particular scene takes us to Hershey, Pennsylvania, home of the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears. While the town may be better known for its famous confectionery and theme park, the Bears routinely lead the AHL in attendance, averaging around 9,000 fans per game. Affiliates of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, the Bears have seen on-ice success in recent years, winning the Calder Cup in 2006, 2009, and 2010, and finishing second in 2007. All of this points to Hershey as the epicenter of minor league hockey in America, and an obvious stop on Chernoski’s voyage. In this clip, he speaks to native Hersheyites, hoping to figure out why hockey is so huge in such a small Pennsylvania town.

Coming from a hockey-loving AHL city (that actually bested Hershey in attendance in ’05–’06), I understand what these people are saying. I worked for six years at the arena where the Manchester Monarchs played, through college and afterwards. I was a hockey fanatic before the team came to town, but I would show up for work and people who previously didn’t know Wayne Gretzky from Wayne Brady could be found discussing the latest L.A. Kings injury or poking through the Monarchs’ yearbook. Years later the fury has died down some, as it does in so many minor league towns, but on any given night you will still find thousands of people at the arena, hoping to catch a glimpse of the next Kings superstar. The addition of the team to our community strengthened an already-tight bond with the game and made hockey fans out of people who otherwise would never have watched a single faceoff.

Is that enough to grow the game in the United States? Is the answer to hockey’s growth problem to put a minor league team in every town from Tacoma to Tallahassee? We’ll have to wait until Hockey in the USA – Part I comes out on Thanksgiving Day. Until then, you can visit the film’s Facebook page or follow Steve Chernoski on Twitter.

Kaspars Daugavins’ Nasty Shootout Goal

Part of what makes backyard and pond hockey so much fun is the ability to try crazy things without fear. I can’t tell you how many times I landed flat on my back after I “invented” a breakaway move where I stand on the puck on one skate (note: when it works, it’s nastiness; when it doesn’t, it hurts). But that’s the fun of freelance puck: doing stuff you could never pull off in a real game.

Then there are guys like Kaspars Daugavins, who have such an insane level of skill and confidence that they bring these ridiculous moves from the safety of the practice rink to the professional stage. Daugavins, a winger for the AHL’s Binghamton Senators and a 2006 Ottawa draft pick, used the move in a shootout, and was the only Senator to bury a shootout tally during a 4-3 shootout loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday night.

I’ll never be a huge fan of the shootout as a way to decide wins or losses, but with guys willing to try out moves like this, they certainly have some value in the game for sheer entertainment. Take a look below, then give it a shot on your rink this winter.

Bonus points for the rodeo-inspired celebration at the end!


Thanks to Yahoo’s Puck Daddy, we now have a new camera angle. Half the camera shakiness, but now with twice the white balance! (Same amount of nastiness).

The Backyard Rinc Song

I know what you’re thinking. It’s October, the leaves are falling, the nights are getting colder. It’s almost time to drag the boards out, you’re about to buy a liner, and you can’t wait to use that new homeboni you built. But there’s something amiss. You have all of your tools and rink parts, but something it missing. Then it hits you:

You don’t have an anthem.

Fret no more. Greg Michalski, a songwriter, rinkbuilder, and owner of Backyard Rinc, Chicago’s premiere all-purpose backyard rink installer, has you covered. Written by Michalski and recorded by Chicago’s own Thrift Store Heroes, “The Backyard Rinc Song” might just be the first ode to the fine art of rinkbuilding ever created.

Head over to Michalski’s website and have a listen. Heck, loop the song while you build your frame and you won’t have to wonder why all of your friends are drinking apple cider and carving Jack-o-lanterns with their kids while you pound rebar into your lawn with a sledgehammer. The image of the “3-year-old in double blades” will keep you going.

Great lyrics, great tune, and great time of year. Rinkbuilders, your anthem.

In Chicagoland and want a rink? Contact Michalski at greg@backyardrinc.com.

Tap on the pads to Michalski’s Boston-area counterpart, Alex Rogozenski of www.backyardice.com, for being the first to point me to this song on Twitter.

Pond Hockey Classic Unveils New Logo, Brings Home Hardware

September is not normally a time for pond hockey victories, but Scott Crowder and his team at Ekal Events are having quite the month.

Crowder, the driving force behind the wildly successful New England Pond Hockey Classic and the brand new Lake Champlain Pond Hockey Classic, started off last week by unveiling a new design that will be adapted to form each tournament’s logo. Scott explains the new design:

“We wanted to capture the essence of Pond Hockey with a simple and subtle logo that could be easily altered for our different events, the LCPHC and the NEPHC. Anyone who has ever played pond hockey has thrown the stick over their shoulder with the skates on the end and walked down to the rink. This is classic pond hockey and over the course of three months we were able to come up with a finished product. We had numerous versions of this logo, and went through many revisions, but we love the finished product and feel we have properly portrayed the sport of pond hockey with a simple but classic logo.

The logo was created through a collaborative effort between myself, graphic designer Projekt Grafik, and the official apparel provider of the PHC, Earthtec.”

As if that wasn’t big enough news, Crowder then spent this past Tuesday evening accepting the 2010 Lakes Region Tourism Award for his New England Pond Hockey Classic, which took place back in February. According to the Lakes Region Association website, the Award is given annually to an individual or company “that has made a difference during the past year to bring visitors into the Lakes Region and Central New Hampshire.” The Pond Hockey Classic served to bring hockey people together in a new and unique way and also helped visitors from around the region experience an area of the state that often sits dormant during the cold winter months — a concept true to the spirit of the Award and one that made Crowder a slam-dunk for this year’s presentation.

Pond hockey events may be a relatively new phenomenon to the area, but the NEPHC shows that not only can they be big wins for hockey-minded people, but that they can boost local economies, bring tourists to an area they might not otherwise visit, and foster a sense of community ownership. On behalf of everyone at Backyard-Hockey.com and all the players and fans who soaked in the NEPHC, congratulations to Scott and the Ekal team!

For more information on the tournaments, visit these pages: Website, Facebook, Twitter