Shovel ready

Mason Buchanan (left) and Court Wallace (center-right) help shovel off the ice shavings after Friday's last game of the weekend Florence Outdoor 3v3 hockey tournament.

FLORENCE — No Zamboni, no problem. At the Florence Outdoor 3v3 hockey tournament there's a little extra incentive to win each game.

The game's losers are forced to trade in their hockey sticks for shovels and remove the rink's built-up ice shavings — a task usually reserved for a large, vehicular ice-cutting machine during an indoor rink's intermission.

After the final game of the three-day weekend tournament on Friday, it was Team Mason that was tasked with the chore. But the guys were in good spirits.

"We're out here shoveling ice — it's just people helping people," said Mason Buchanan, whose squad fell in a first-round game to "Team Eamon."

Meanwhile, Team Eamon was able to get an early jump on some fireside sitting and other warming ingestions that had the sizable crowd at the rink in good spirits.

In all, it was a solid start to the second-year tournament.

"This is my second year doing this here, and it's just such a good small-town ice arena," Buchanan said. "Chris (Kovatch) does a lot of work to put it together and does a great job making it a good community thing."

The rink was Kovatch's brainchild two years ago, and the ice man was at the 52x96-foot frozen surface most of the day keeping score during the eight-team tournament. It was chilly work, as game-time temperatures at Hideout Mountain park started below freezing and crept below 20 degrees after the fourth and final matchup.

But that meant good conditions for hockey.

"I think everybody had a good time, we had good ice and great hockey — can't ask for much more than that," Kovatch said. "I don't think we could have asked for better ice."

It was even better after a good shoveling.

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The tournament continues through Sunday morning with a "toilet bowl championship" set for noon. The championship match is slated for 11 a.m.

Hoping to make the better of the two finals is "The DADs," a 3-on-3 team comprised of fathers whose kids play youth hockey. The DADs won Game 1 Friday night.

"All the dads have kids on her team," Eric Schowengerdt said, pointing to his young daughter with an oversized hockey stick in tow. "We ended up winning, but that doesn't matter we're just out here having fun."

Fun was the name of the game Friday night as families raced around the park and huddled around the bonfires. The lit up rink completed the perfect winter backdrop.

"It's great that the community and park support it," Kovatch said.

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