Black Ice Pond Hockey Tournament pushed inside to Everett Arena on St. Patrick’s Day weekend 


Monitor staff

Published: 01-19-2023 8:36 AM

Chris Brown, the face of the annual Black Ice Pond Hockey Tournament, received a scouting report recently from a city employee at White Park.

The worker had gone onto the pond’s surface to retrieve a “No Skating Sign” and test the ice’s safety for the dozens of adult and youth hockey games scheduled for Jan. 27-29.

“He just about fell through,” said the tournament organizer who also happens to be the president and CEO of New Hampshire Distributors. “There’s maybe one to two inches of ice there now, and it takes seven or eight inches to move heavy equipment onto the ice.”

Translation: Void of thick, sturdy ice, Brown and his volunteers once again had to juggle the schedule for their annual tribute to the sport that has produced professional, Olympic and Division I players from the Granite State.

Adult games will be held at Everett Arena on March 17, 18, 19. The kids will skate on schedule on Jan. 28 at the rinks at St. Paul’s School.

As in years past, Brown had to balance the need of players to plan ahead with a forecast of freezing temperatures leading up to the event. Snow is forecast for Thursday into Friday, and the ice at White Park isn’t nearly thick enough to push it off. Besides, the extended forecast shows above-freezing temperatures during the days.

“This presents difficulties and challenges,” Brown said. “But look at Everett Arena on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. This is an opportunity to have a great show and then pivot to something different.”

This is a tournament that has been on thin ice before. In fact, only three of 12 Black Ice Championships have gone off without a hitch through the entire weekend.

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Ever the optimist, Brown’s had to keep an even keel in recent years. “You can get mad and say, ‘We cannot do this,’ or we can try to put on an event that everyone would be proud of.”

Concord is proud of its hockey history, which dates back to the 19th century. In the pre-Everett Arena days, many high-profile college games were held at St. Paul’s.

In fact, the school is known in some circles as the host of the first official hockey game ever.

Many area players skated hundreds of times at Everett Arena and moved on to big headlines. Tara Monsey won an Olympic Gold Medal, and Kent Carlson played in the National Hockey League.

When you play inside at Everett Arena, the weather is always good. Not so at White Park.

“At the end of the day, I want to put on a great event and see how the town and the players embrace this,” Brown said. “When we pull it off, it is great, but we always know that we may have to change or manipulate the schedule.”

Meanwhile, the city’s fourth Winter Festival, held downtown in conjunction with the Black Ice tournament, will still be held, as scheduled, on Jan. 28.

Chainsaw ice sculpting will be featured, which thankfully doesn’t require the freezing temperatures needed to skate safely on the pond at White Park.