Sunday’s 3-on-3 pond hockey tournament in Port Huron was always going to be the beginning of something, because it is the first one.
But if organizers Fred Minnie, Mike Dewey and Ron Hembroff have their way, it could be the beginning of something much bigger.
The tournament, which will be played at Palmer Park in Port Huron, will feature 28 teams with players ages 10 and older. But it could have been many more, if space and time allowed, and that has the trio hoping to take the tournament to another level as early as next year.
“We could actually get 100 teams, easily,” Minnie said. “Next year, we’re going to expand it because we got a ton of interest. We’re going to put more ponds out there, it’s going to be a Friday, Saturday, Sunday thing. We’re going to put ponds behind the Zebra Bar and Quay Street. It will be fun for downtown Port Huron, and fun for merchants.”
None of that is official, but Minnie and his counterparts want to make it happen. If it does, Hembroff believes it could rival, or surpass, the biggest pond hockey tournaments in the world.
“I think because of the closeness to the Detroit area, and the closeness to Sarnia, the size of the area — Eagle River, Wisconsin has some 350-360 teams, and I think this could be bigger,” Hembroff said. “If we got together as a city and with the townships and put this on right, if we got it going, I bet we could be bigger than Eagle River.
“I think we could, in a matter of a few years, if we did it right, we could probably be No. 1 in the world.”
While they’re thinking big in the future, the trio is also focused on Sunday’s opener, which, if it goes correctly, could certainly help to spawn growth.
The tournament begins at 8 a.m., and Minnie said it is likely run until about 6 p.m. There are multiple age division, ranging from 10-14 up to 30-40. The most teams (18) are in the 20-30 age division. Division winners will receive a championship T-shirt.
Minnie said there will be food for sale on site, as well as a fire and a tent for players to keep warm. All the proceeds from Sunday’s tournament will go to Port Huron’s two minor hockey associations: Blue Water, and the Port Huron Minor Hockey Association.
“There’s three has-been, old-time hockey players who can’t play anymore, so we figured we’d organize stuff, and it’s really working out quite well,” Minnie said. “Plus, if we can sponsor a couple kids out of minor hockey — if the parents need a little help, we’re going to be there to do it.”
Hembroff actually is playing, as he’ll join his grandsons on a team. Having seen who is coming — not all teams are local, as Minnie said there are teams from Ohio and Texas — Hembroff expects a good day of hockey.
“I know some of the people playing, and some of them are pretty good hockey players,” he said. “It all depends on the ones I don’t know in those divisions. I expect it to be a lot of fun playing and a lot of fun watching. I believe it will be good competition.”
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.
POND HOCKEY TOURNAMENT
WHAT: 3-on-3 pond hockey tournament
WHEN: 8 a.m. Sunday
WHERE: Palmer Park in Port Huron
WHO: 28 teams, broken into age divisions