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Massena Cup draws teams from around north country, even North Carolina

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MASSENA - Teams from as far away as North Carolina will be traveling to Massena in January for the annual Massena Cup outdoor hockey tournament.

“We’re getting teams from North Carolina and several teams from Plattsburgh. We’ve got guys coming from all over the place,” said Tom Post, one of organizers for the tournament, which will be held Jan. 17 and 18 at the Massena Arena annex as part of the 2014 Massena Winter Carnival.

The Massena Cup has been gradually growing since its inception in 2010 as part of the return of the Massena Winter Carnival. Last year’s event ran into a bit of a bump when the weather warmed up, keeping recreational officials from successfully laying down a coat of ice in the annex, but the games were moved inside so the tournament could go on as scheduled.

That tournament featured 20 teams from areas that included Massena, Akwesasne, Plattsburgh, Syracuse and as far away as North Carolina.

Now, many of those teams are ready to hit the ice again, according to Mr. Post.

“I would say from two years ago that 90 percent of the teams have returned. I think we’re at a point now where it’s big enough to manage. I think at some point maybe it’ll turn into a three-day tournament and get a women’s division,” he said.

For the 2014 tournament, Mr. Post said they’re currently looking at about eight teams each in the Elite Division and Open Division. A Recreation Division, which was introduced in 2013, has about four teams, he said.

The Elite Division features “A players,” he said, while the Open Division is a “combination of B and C, and maybe a few A players.” The Recreation Division features older players and those who are infrequently on the ice during the year.

With temperatures being ideal for outdoor ice, Mr. Post said he hopes those continue into the weekend of the tournament so it can be staged outdoors. If not, ice time has been reserved inside the Massena Arena.

“We’re hoping to play some outside games. It looks promising this year. It was 12 below last night. I think we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.

If they move inside, they’ll have to work around a high school game that’s also scheduled for the arena.

“Maybe we’ll have some games outside during that,” he said.

Plans call for a hospitality tent to be set up near the annex, and Mr. Post said they may also be doing a cookout.

“You can get yourself a sausage or hot dog or maybe a slice of pizza, something of that nature. I think we’ll give a ticket to each player and they’ll get a complimentary meal,” he said.

Mr. Post said the event has continued to evolve and grown more popular with each year.

“We kind of followed suit when the NHL starting doing their Winter Classic. It’s taken off. We have this awesome facility with the annex. If you go around the north country, you don’t find too many outdoor rinks like that,” he said, crediting past organizer Ryan Prentice with getting the tournament to its level of popularity.

“Ryan Prentice has done a phenomenal job with it the last four years,” he said.

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