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Massena Arena annex stages “Outdoor Winter Classic” hockey tournament


MASSENA - Mother Nature didn’t allow the Massena Cup outdoor hockey tournament to be played outdoors in the Massena Arena annex.

But she was much kinder to a group of Mite hockey players.

The annex was the site of what Recreation Director Richard A. Boprey called an “Outdoor Winter Classic,” pitting members of the Massena Minor Hockey Mites against youngsters from Norwood-Norfolk.

Mr. Boprey told members of the Massena Joint Recreation Commission that he coordinated the cross-ice hockey tournament with Chris Aldous, who coaches Massena Mites.

“He set up a deal with Norwood-Norfolk,” he said.

Thirty players between the ages of 5 and 8 took part in the tournament as members of the Red, White or Blue teams. Red was the highest skill level, followed by White and then Blue. The rink was divided into three separate games - one for the Red team, one for the White team and another for the Blue team from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

“The kids that aren’t hitting, the smaller groups, it’s perfect for them,” Mr. Boprey said.

The kids weren’t the only ones excited about the game, he said. So were fans and parents who surrounded the rink to watch the action.

“The perimeter was full of people,” he said. “You would have thought it was the Stanley Cup.”

The outdoor ice that wasn’t so good for the Massena Cup was perfect for the Mites tournament, according to Mr. Boprey. He said that four days prior to the Massena Cup, they had more than 5 inches of ice in the annex. But some of it melted because of the warmer weather, leaving gaps between the ice and the boards and moving the tournament inside the Massena Arena.

But then Mother Nature decided to cooperate for the Mites.

“The day after the Massena Cup, it went down to 0 again,” Mr. Boprey said.

Once that temperature hit, Recreation Department employee Terry Peets began flooding the outdoor rink again.

“By Monday he had Alaskan lake ice out here,” he said.

Besides getting the ice ready, the Recreation Department opened up the shack for the tournament and served up hot chocolate and music.

Since the tournament, Mr. Boprey said he has received several calls from around the area, including as far away as Malone, inquiring about the ice.

“They’re all calling and asking if they can play an outdoor classic,” he said.

“Everybody was just so happy about the whole thing,” Recreation Commission member George Hammill said. “It was a great job you guys did in preparing that. The ice was perfect.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Boprey said, it wasn’t so perfect for the Massena Cup, but they had a fallback plan in case they couldn’t play in the annex.

“We always have Contingency Plan A in place,” he said.

Massena Cup organizers purchase ice time inside the Massena Arena in case its necessary to move inside, and other organizations also book ice time that day, aware that it may not be available. So, one way or the other, the arena ice is being used, Mr. Boprey said.

“They pay for the ice one way or another,” he said.

When the determination is made to move the tournament inside, the other organizations that have booked ice time are notified that it’s no longer available.

“They all accept it,” he said.

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