ALEXANDRIA BAY Knock!
A hockey puck ricochets off the wooden sideboard of an ice rink on the St. Lawrence River on Sunday afternoon during the Labatt Blue Thousand Islands Pond Hockey Tournament. The eight players who are competing in the intermediate division championship game pause for a moment, watching the puck arc wildly toward the crowd.
It lands safely at the feet of Mary-Ellen Hynes, a village resident whos here to watch her husband, John T., play in the four-on-four tournament. She picks up the puck and tosses it back into play.
Her husband is playing for the 86ers, whose players are alumni from the class of 1986 at Alexandria Central School. The team is facing the Alex Bay Puckhogs, composed mostly of graduates from the class of 1989.
Most of these guys grew up playing hockey together since they were kids, Hynes said of the players, who are now ages 44 and 45. This is kind of a reunion for them.
A whistle is blown suddenly by a volunteer referee to end the 30-minute game, which the Puckhogs won 8-5. Scarlet-faced, the 86ers convene at the team bench to start the process of removing their gear. Their black uniforms are etched with the No. 19 in back, and 86ers in front.
We used to play pond hockey out here all the time in high school, said team captain Brian Hudon, who started the team this year. Pointing to players from the opposing them, he said, And were all friends of those guys.
The younger guys beat us today, but well get our revenge next year. Well start training a week earlier.
Sixteen teams competed in the volunteer-run tournament sponsored by Labatt Blue, an increase from last years 10. Players traveled here from the Buffalo area, Syracuse, Croghan, Fort Drum and Massena.
Organizer Fred Dobbins, 57, competed in the senior league for ages 50 and up. His team, ACS Remember Whens, lost a tight game to the Twine Ticklers in the championship game Sunday, 9-8. They won damn it and also beat us the first game we played yesterday, said Dobbins, a board member of the Alexandria Bay Chamber of Commerce.
Dobbins, who is the general manager of Capt. Thomsons Resort, estimated the tournament lured about 150 players and spectators from outside the area this weekend. The resort, which usually has two to four rooms booked during winter months, filled up 10 with players this weekend. The influx of visitors also has funneled money to other hotels, restaurants and gas stations.
Its been a nice boom for the community, Dobbins said.
The Garlock Lumberkings defeated the Luberjacks Sunday in the junior division championship game.