This weekend, a frozen Ramsey Lake hosted 71 teams of hardy Northerners playing in the 11th annual Pond Hockey Festival on the Rock.
Don't let its name fool you -- this was not your average pond hockey tournament. In addition to 16 playground and 55 non-playground teams, the ice was filled with as many as 1,000 people at any given time, enjoying the many sights and sounds of the event.
In addition to the 12 rinks created for the tournament, the Northern Water Sports Centre waterfront featured a meet and greet with members of the Sudbury Wolves, free Tim Hortons, a fireplace, ice fishing, a hot air balloon and children's play area. More than 125 voluteers contributed to the event, many representing the event's beneficiary, Camp Quality.
In their off-season, Camp Quality hosts a number of 'fun days' across Northern Ontario to engage their youth throughout the winter months. Pond Hockey Festival on the Rock was selected as one of these events, allowing their youth to participate in the tournament with a match against the Sudbury Wolves.
While the tournament's beneficiary used to change annually, a more permanent partnership with Camp Quality has begun to develop in recent years. Greta Clark, chair of Pond Hockey on the Rock and photographer for Camp Quality, said the decision stems from the enormous volunteer base Camp Quality has contributed year after year.
"By sticking with one (beneficiary), the volunteers become familiar with the event," said Clark. "Whenever you get new people involved, it is difficult."
Inclement weather put the volunteer base to the test this year, with freezing rain and cold weather threatening to cancel the event, right up to the day before the puck drop.
"Three days before the event, something crazy could happen that could destroy everything ... so Thursday night was one of those nights that I was super worried," said Clark.
Despite concerns, Ramsey Lake remained blanketed in sunshine throughout the weekend, allowing Sudbury and its many visitors to enjoy a staple in the winter event lineup.