By Darren Lum
A few months wasn’t enough time to organize the Pond Tourney with Bernie said its organizer John Teljeur.
Teljeur the general manager of the Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre with two years of experience helping organize Haliburton’s Canadian Pond Hockey Championships in 2013 and 2014 cited a lack of sponsors and players as reasons for the postponement.
Although he was working hard towards running the event even with the shortfall it led to a late start that the event couldn’t recover from.
“We got a late start to getting this thing going. We were waiting for a couple of key players [sponsors] to jump aboard in the summer and that summer became fall and by the time they declined for this year we decided [in October] … to push ahead anyway and see if we could save the thing for 2016. So that got us a late start” he said.
The three day event which offered four divisions: men’s open (ages 35 plus) men’s recreation (ages 35 plus) women’s open division (ages 35 plus) and women’s recreation (ages 35 plus) was scheduled for the end of January. It has been postponed to Jan. 27 to 29 2017.
The event named for former NHLer Bernie Nicholls of West Guilford.
It was going to raise money for local charities and fill the void left behind the second year absence of the Championships which was held in Huntsville last year after its organizing company J-Core Marketing was unsuccessful in receiving $75000 over three years from Haliburton County.
Bookings for the Bernie event were slow during November and early December. The warm weather during December contributed and with close to 20 teams registered by early December it was a far cry from the expected 40 teams ideal for the first year of a tournament.
“It is supposed to be a fun event but people are playing for something so it would have been nice to have upwards of 40 teams to make a real go of it. If you’re not going to do it then don’t do it” he said.
Teljeur said the postponement will ensure a better event.
He is open to modifying the event and to give players worthwhile incentives but wants to continue to emphasize the fun aspect of the tournament.
“I still want to make it a fun event. That’s the best part about it but I also want to have a bit more competition. Going on my experience running [a pond hockey tournament] and being involved in it it’s always nice to have a little bit of incentive to compete but at the same time not lose sight [that] it is a fun event and a experience together and just be part of it.”
Teljeur hopes it can be a “destination type of event.”
One that teams will mark on their calendar for the winter that will not just benefit his resort and the entire community.
“The long range plan for this is to make it back to a community event whether they’re staying at the Pinestone or one of the other resorts or cottage rental agencies. It doesn’t make any difference to have them here at the Pinestone. I’d love to have them here at the Pinestone. The biggest challenge is to get them here in Haliburton” he said.
Another idea he is thinking of is to utilize the various large rooms at the Pinestone such as the ballroom or the Heatherwood for theme nights corresponding to a major sponsor such as Molson/Coors who along with RPM had committed to the event.
Unlike the Championships this first time effort needed to make purchases related to equipment such as nets and signage including marketing.
Without two key sponsors the event was short on time and money.
Teljeur felt a sense of relief after the recent decision to postpone the event in light of the challenges.
In discussions with other organizations and individuals involved the decision was accepted as best for the event.
“There’s lots of time. We’ll do it right and let’s sit down in late winter and talk about what we’re going to do next. I feel a lot better about the fact there is still interest in doing this and there is an opportunity to do this. We’re not giving up by any stretch of the imagination” he said.