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New Hampshire’s Pond Hockey Contests Dominate Weekend

Hockey players race for the puck during the Black Ice Pond Hockey tournament Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, in Concord, N.H.  More than 80 teams from around New England and Canada are competing in the three-day event. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Hockey players race for the puck during the Black Ice Pond Hockey tournament Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, in Concord, N.H. More than 80 teams from around New England and Canada are competing in the three-day event. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Concord — It’s pond hockey season in New Hampshire, with the fourth annual 1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey tournament in Concord continuing through this weekend and the New England Pond Hockey Classic slated for next weekend on Lake Winnipesaukee.

There are no time clocks, no pads and no referees — just fierce competition and free admission for spectators. Both tournaments are sold out and have teams on waiting lists.

The 1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey Championship — played at White Park in Concord — is named for the year the nation’s first organized hockey game was played on a frozen pond at St. Paul’s School.

The New England Pond Hockey Classic in Meredith kicks off next weekend.

In addition to lots of hockey, both tournaments feature music, special events and vendors. It is the fourth year for both tournaments.

The Concord tournament and others like it preserve the pared-down structure of the early days — teams play 4-on-4 with no goalies, body checking and slap shots are not allowed and the goals are 6-foot-by-2-foot boxes with slots cut into them.

The New England Pond Hockey Classic has grown from 77 teams in 2010 to 200 today. The teams play on 20 rinks plowed clear on the surface of Lake Winnipesauke. On the eve of last year’s tournament, temperatures were nearing 60 degrees. The long-range forecast this year for Meredith predicts temperatures will not top 30 degrees.