Crystal Cup returning bigger and better

Both the Crystal Cup and High on Ice have moved dates this year, to coincide with B.C.'s new Family Day holiday.

Neil Evans, CEO and creator, says this year’s tournament is expected to be bigger and better than last year’s inaugural event.

"This year what we’ve done with the Crystal Cup, just from the popularity from last year, we’ve decided to double it in size and go to 60 teams. We are also going to incorporate a social event this year into the mix, which is going to be happening Friday night for Crystal Cup members and their buddies. Basically what that will do is allow everyone to have an ice breaker, while also allowing the committee to go over rules and regulations and a bit more about the tournament."

The social event is being held at the Lido Theatre on Friday February 8, and Evans says organizers are attempting to bring in a comedian, as well as a keynote speaker, possibly an NHL Alumni, to help make the event a bit more special for everyone involved.

Evans adds the expansion of teams also comes from increased interest from teams outside of town to participate. He says following last year’s tournament, organizers were flooded with interest calls from teams from various B.C. communities, Alberta and even as far as Minnesota.

The tournament even gained enough notoriety to be included in the latest edition of Pond Hockey-opoly.

The tournament won’t see too many changes to the actual game play, however this year, helmets will be mandatory for all players to avoid any possible injuries.

Along with the eight tournament rinks, a ninth, full size skating rink is being added this year so players and public can play games of shinny throughout the day, keeping their skills sharp and bodies warm in between games.

The Charlie Lake site, located on the south banks fifteen minutes north of Fort St. John, will also include a children’s rink, food vendors, as well as a "beverage" garden.

New to the tournament this year is a website, outlining tournament information, how and where to register, how to become a sponsor, news and updates and various other attractions.

Registration opened Wednesday, December 12, and only the first 60 teams to register will secure a spot in the tournament. The cost to register is $125 per team and can be completed online, or dropped off at the North Peace Leisure Pool desk. Registration closes on January 31, 2013 at 10 p.m.

For more information on the tournament, including rules and how to sign up, visit the Crystal Cup’s brand new website.

Evans adds that as it is the second year of the tournament, organizers are entering this year’s event much more prepared than last year.

"Absolutely, I think its going to run significantly smoother. I think worst case scenarios from every angle happened last year, especially from Mother Nature, who threw us for a complete loop Saturday. We are going to be quite a bit more prepared for snow removal equipment. As well we’re building a burm surrounding the entire area with snow fencing, so hopefully that will deter some of the snow drifts coming off the lake."

Recently, Crystal Cup organizers were denied funding from the City of Fort St. John for the tournament’s new website. As a result, organizers are seeking extra sponsors this year, which can provide sponsorship through a variety of ways, either monetary, or with equipment.

The Crystal Cup board has put together sponsorship packages, which are available through the website.