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Changes in store for next Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament

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Buffalo: Changes in store for next Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament
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There are a few changes in store for this years Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament. As YNN's Kevin Jolly reports, the weather, once again, could play a major role.

For the past five years, hundreds of amateur hockey players have come to the Erie Basin Marina to participate in the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament. Thursday, organizers announced the details of this years event with a few changes.

"The Labatt Blue Pond Hockey tournament will take place on Saturday, February 9th at the Erie Basin Marina. More than 650 players across 96 teams will complete in twelve different divisions," said Lisa Texido, Labatt Blue.

The biggest change the tournament with be held on one day instead of two. Organizers say this will help them to make any adjustments due to the weather and hold make up games the next day. Another change: team registration.

"Typically, registration has been done where teams sign up on a first-come first-serve basis. What happens is the event sells out in minutes. So, what we're doing for 2013 is we're going to open registration for a two-week window. This will allow captains the time that they need to get their full rosters together and sign up for a chance to play," said Texido.

Last year, the pond hockey tournament was all but canceled because the lake didn't freeze over. It was moved here to this parking lot as a street hockey tournament. And this year if Old Man Winter doesn't cooperate, organizers say they have another backup plan.

"We need at least 10 to 12 inches of ice for safe hockey play. If we don't have ice or we don't have enough ice for safe play, the pond hockey tournament will be canceled. If the tournament is canceled, we will full refund all the team registration fees," said Texido.

The tournament will shift here once again for street hockey. Bruce Janes, who manages Templeton Landing, on the marina, says he's hopeful the tournament will go on as planned.

"I really hope that the lake freezes over because in the past it's been great for the whole Erie Basin area," said Janes.

Registration will take place from Friday November 16th through November 30th. Teams for each division will be announced on December 7th.

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