Competitors take to the ice for the Montana Pond Hockey Classic. (Photos courtesy of the Montana Pond Hockey Classic.)

Discover the retro joy of a hockey tournament played the old-fashioned way—outdoors, on a frozen lake

Andrea Minarcek  – September 26, 2017 | Updated January 6, 2020

Even if you’re not a hockey fan, there’s something appealing about an old-fashioned pond pickup game. The scrip-scrape of the skate blades, the thwack of the stick, the arc of the puck as it soars toward… the goal? A teammate waiting for the pass? A nearby snowbank?

If this sounds like fun, head to Kalispell, Montana, where the fifth annual Montana Pond Hockey Classic tournament takes from February 20–22 on Foys Lake. (Yes, an honest-to-Gretzky lake, just 4 miles from town.)

In Montana, it’s never too early to strap on some skates and learn to glide.

Either sign up to play—last year, the 350 participants, male and female, ranged in age from their early 20s to late 60s, and came from as far away as San Diego—or watch your fill. Multiple games are played simultaneously on the 15-inch-thick ice, making this a veritable Wimbledon of winter. And last year, the temps got as high as the low 30s—practically springlike! $600/team to play, spectators watch for free.

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