A new ice hockey tournament is coming to downtown Buffalo, and it might well be the first to feature players and fans wearing suntan lotion.
Using a synthetic ice rink, the Labatt Blue Wingman Hockey Tournament will take place outside Coca-Cola Field during the annual National Buffalo Wing Festival on Aug. 31.
The rink will be set up next to the Labatt Blue beer tent in the Exchange Street parking lot, and the tournament will run from noon until 9 p.m.
“When we started thinking about ‘Wingfest,’ we thought, ‘How do we make hockey a part of that?’ ” said Lisa Texido, a brand manager at Labatt Blue.
Texido said she has heard about other events with synthetic ice rinks elsewhere, but she wasn’t aware of any in Buffalo before this one.
Rules will be similar to the Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament, held each year at Erie Basin Marina, except that play will be two-on-two and players won’t be able to lift their sticks over their knees due to the rink’s smaller size – 20 by 40 feet.
Eight teams consisting of intermediate- to advanced-level players were preselected, and the tournament is closed.
“All of these teams have played in most if not all of the Pond Hockey Tournaments that we’ve had,” Texido said.
Teams are guaranteed at least three games, which will consist of two 17-minute periods. Rosters can have up to six players.
Though weather will not have a huge impact on game play, the tournament’s make-up date is the following day, Sept. 1, in case of thunderstorms.
The rink, which will be provided by Pace Landscaping and Ice Rinks, uses special polymers to create a skating surface very similar to ice.
The National Buffalo Wing Festival is now in its 12th year and in 2012 featured 25 eateries and 100 different styles of wings.