Monday, January 3, 2011

Pavelich Invitation Kicks off the New Year in Big Sky!

The pristine ice before the game began, with Lone Peak in the distance.
 The sun was shining on the brand new sheet of ice in Big Sky Saturday afternoon. The temperatures may have been in the single digits, but that did not stop over 25 hockey players from lacing up their skates to play in the inaugural game for the Big Sky Skating and Hockey Association (BSSHA) and Alpine Ice Rink at Town Center. The ice looked pristine in the afternoon sun and with Lone Peak and the surrounding mountains looming in the background, there could not have been a better setting for the First Annual Pavelich Invitational.

Players getting ready for the game in the warming hut.
The Hussey Plumbing warming hut was packed with excited players getting ready for the game, many who were lacing up their skates for the first time this winter to play in the Invitational. Many players had skated together previously and were all anxious to step onto the ice at Alpine Ice Rink for the first time. The teams were made up of players from Big Sky and Bozeman, who had helped make the ice rink a possibility.

After a brief warm-up, the teams lined up for the National Anthems – both the United States and Canadian National Anthem were performed, keeping with hockey traditions. Former Detroit Red Wing and four-time Stanley Cup Winner, Marty Pavelich was on hand to drop the puck for the ceremonial face-off. Pavelich stayed to watch the game and cheer on the players, and was as excited as the skaters to see hockey being played in Big Sky.

The Black and White teams take the ice for the First Annual Pavelich Invitational.
Taking the ceremonial face-off, were BSSHA board members Griffin Kilby and Ryan Blechta, who spent many long nights at the rink building the ice and ensuring it was ready for the New Year’s Day event. Kilby opened the scoring for the black team with a goal early in the first period. There was no score board and no referees, only a timekeeper, but players kept track of the score. The game was played “shinny” style, an informal way to play the game without referees, which many skaters played on backyard ponds growing up.

The black team scored two more goals before the white team responded, and the black team went on the win the game 15-12 and the first Pavelich Cup. After the game, the festivities continued with food from the Hungry Mexican, open skate and music until sundown.
BSSHA Board Members Brain Dolan, Griffin Kilby and Ryan Blechta with the Pavelich Cup.