Hockey Legend Wayne Gretzky Kicks off World Pond Hockey in Plaster Rock
The small village of Plaster Rock in New Brunswick is bustling this weekend thanks to the annual World Pond Hockey Championship.
Fans and spectators at the World Pond Hockey Championship witnessed history yesterday when hockey great Wayne Gretzky set off Canada's Goal Light for the very first time and kicked off the official puck drop for the annual international competition.
"As someone who has played hockey for Canada, there's no better feeling than the support of millions of Canadians behind you, encouraging and inspiring our country's biggest goals," said Gretzky. "I'm proud to be the first to sign Canada's Goal Light as it heads for the top of the world and I encourage Canadians to join me and support our goals this September!"
More than 120 teams from 15 countries descended on Roulston Lake for the opening ceremonies and pond hockey tournament.
"Our annual tournament attracts hockey's most passionate fans and it is incredible to see how it has grown year over year," said Danny Braun, director of the World Pond Hockey Championship. "This year's opening ceremony has definitely been unforgettable and we are honoured to play host to hockey's greatest and Canada's Goal Light."
Originally created to raise funds for an indoor rink facility that has since been constructed, the World Pond Hockey Championship has now become a yearly tradition for over 200 local volunteers and teams from around the world. The tournament will conclude on Sunday when the top 32 teams compete for bragging rights, a trophy and their place in history on Canada's Goal Light.
About 10,000 spectators are expected to watch the four-on-four games that take place on 20 rinks.
Many of the players -- who come back year after year -- say the actual hockey is secondary to the fun and friendships they've made over time.