When Sean Lapham started organizing the inaugural Lake Fenton Winter Classic he knew he had to worry about countless things.
How many people would sign up? Would he get any sponsors? Would everyone have fun?
One thing he didn’t plan on worrying about at the end of January was if Lake Fenton was going to be frozen enough for the pond hockey tournament.
However, the weather conditions have become a major concern.
“It’s basically one of the things I’ve been losing sleep over every night,” Lapham said. “There’s still open water.”
The hockey tournament is scheduled for Jan. 27 -29 outside the on Lake Fenton, but Lapham has also made backup dates for Feb. 17 – 19, just in case the ice isn’t ready. Temperatures dropped early this week, but are expected to rise again with a high of 45 on Friday and a high of 38 on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
“It’s a crap shoot. I’ve played in other tournament for the past five years around the same time. The ice usually there around Christmas,” he said. “You have to make do with what you get. You can’t control that stuff."
Lapham, an avid hockey player and member of the , said he’d often look out at Lake Fenton and think to himself “we have a great place for hockey.”
He started planning the tournament in August and with some help from Moose Lodge members and a few sponsors he made his vision into a reality. Well, if it stays cold enough.
“It’s unfortunate. I’m upset, especially it being my first time doing it,” Lapham said. “I wish I was sitting in three feet of snow.”
Lapham, 37, of Fenton, broke his neck playing hockey in second grade when he was tripped from behind and went head first into the boards. He gave up the sport until about 10 years ago. However, he is back playing and enjoying it more than ever, especially pond hockey, which he said holds a special place in his heart.
“At the end of the day lose or win, it’s all about building bonds and friendships,” he said. "Playing on a pond, you can’t replace the fresh air, the frozen lake and best friends. Nothing is better that.”
The tournament is set for seven person teams (ages 18 and up) of 4 on 4 hockey with no goalies, contact or boards. Goals will be six-feet wide and six inches high. Cost is $350 per team, which includes a guaranteed four games. Registration will be open to the first 100 teams in eight divisions. There are spots open. Registration ends Jan. 13. Winners will have their names engraved on a winning trophy, the Des Crowley Memorial Cup, and receive free entry into next year’s tournament.
Lapham plans make the event family-friendly with open skating rinks, turkey bowling, kids games and prizes. Inside the Fenton Moose Lodge there will be warmth, food and beverages and live entertainment.
Players will also have an indoor area to put on their equipment and a tent close to the lake to put on their skates. There will also be a pub crawl following the tournament on Saturday.
“We are going to have fun no matter what,” Lapham said.