Some well-known professional hockey players will be participating in a new event for weekend hockey players.
Organizers of the inaugural Nautical Mile Pond Hockey Winter Classic recently announced that former Detroit Red Wings player and member of the Grind Line, Kirk Maltby, will be the grand marshal for the event Jan. 20 -22.
Additionally other retired Red Wings including Shawn Burr may participate in an autograph session during the weekend-long tournament which is expected to attract up to 72 teams and upwards of 1,000 people.
"We are bringing a lot of outsiders into our town that will hopefully patronize the businesses and restaurants throughout the weekend," said Greg Esler, parks and recreation director. "We are hoping this becomes something of an annual event that gets bigger and bigger."
The city of , St. Clair Shores , Brownies Restaurant, , TIFA and several other sponsors are organizing the event on Lake St. Clair along the .
The outdoor tournament will be for players 21-years-old and older will be played on 150-foot by 75-foot rinks that will be created on the canals adjacent to Brownies. Each team will have at least three games, including some night games under temporary lights, with semifinals and championships on Sunday.
"It will be just like when we were little kids and skated in our backyard," said John Vicari, of the Andiamo Restaurant Group, which will have the host restaurant for event.
There will be no checking in the 4-on-4 tournament, and teams must have matching jerseys for the 40-minute games. No goalie equipment is permitted, and if a puck goes out of bounds, the last team to touch it loses possession. Also there will be no lifting of pucks as players shoot on goals.
"Brownie's will be the host restaurant, but we won't be the only restaurant that will be busy because we can't house everyone," Vicari added. "It is going to spread into the restaurants in the area."
Proceeds from the tournament, and a raffle with the grand prize of a suite for the Feb. 25 Red Wings game that includes tickets for 16 people, food and drink, parking passes and a visit to the team locker room, will benefit St. Clair Shores Parks and Recreation.
Other businesses along Jefferson are preparing to lend their expertise during the weekend. The will assist with medical care during the tournament and secured at least one ambulance from Superior Ambulance to be on site. And the Tax Increment Finance Authority for the Nautical Mile also contributed $10,000 for marketing and publicity of the event.
"This is phenomenal," said Donna Flaherty, president of the Nautical Mile Merchants Association. "This is an answer for some many people who wanted something on the Nautical Mile during the winter time."
For more information about registering for the tournament, or volunteering, visit: http://scsmi.net/PondHockey/Pondhockey.html.