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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Crowder puts degree, love for hockey, to good use

You’ve got to love a young entrepreneur.

Some kids graduate from college, especially in this economy, and have no clue as to what they’re going to do. Half the time it’s of no fault of their own, it’s just bad timing.

Not 24-year-old Scott Crowder, a 2004 Bishop Guertin grad and recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is putting his sports management and marketing degrees to good use. Rather than wait for somebody else to hire him, he decided to create his own job.

And that job is attracting nearly 500 adult pond hockey players to Meredith Bay this coming weekend. The first-ever New England Pond Hockey Classic, which starts Friday and will raise money for community organizations and Special Olympics, is his brainchild.

“There are kids who have graduated school and aren’t doing anything,” he said. “I have a job I like. And it’s kind of taken on a life of its own.”

Indeed, he couldn’t have expected anything like this. Crowder, the son of former UMass Lowell, Northeastern University, and Portland (AHL) coach Bruce Crowder, tried to get work on his own after college – as a professional hockey player (he played at BG as a freshman and sophomore). He went to California to pursue his dream, tried out for an ECHL team in Stockton, but didn’t make it. He didn’t want to barnstorm the rest of the minor leagues.

Instead, he was up in Meredith in the fall – he would always summer there – and Crowder was always the type of kid to grab a bunch of people on his own an get a pond game going in the winter.

The light went on … and it’s burning bright. Seventy-seven teams are coming, mainly 4-on-4 stuff, and there’s another 30-plus on the waiting list. Sponsors galore. Some hockey names, such as his dad, plus Steve Leach, Bobby Carpenter and perhaps Lyndon Byers. He went to some community meetings, raised the idea, met with insurance companies, the whole nine yards. The kid knows what he’s doing.

“Why not?” he said. “Why not try it? There isn’t another pond hockey tournament in the area to take advantage of the hockey community. It’s a passionate fan base.

“Honestly? I knew it could become something like this. But I wasn’t sure the first year we could get the response like this.”

Media outlets will be coming up to Meredith next weekend to check out Crowder’s brainchild. He has seven rinks, each 150 feet long by 75 feet wide, set up with snow barriers. You can check the scenery out at pondhockeyclassic.com. Crowder’s event does the Facebook and Twitter thing, too. With today’s technology, making it so easy to get the word out, he has teams coming from as far away as Colorado and Washington, D. C. There will be a silent auction as well, with one of the prizes a game against an NHL Legends team.

Good stuff, and we wish him the best. There’s a woman’s team, and one co-ed team. In the coming years, he’d like to branch out to a youth division tournament on a separate weekend.

The folks in the Meredith and Lakes Region business community must love this. “As much as they tell you they don’t hurt in the winter, you know it’s not the same (as summer),” Crowder said. “The hotels, the restaurants, they’ll all benefit from this.”

And you can bet they’re glad, along with Special Olympics and other organizations as well as the hockey community in general, that he didn’t make that Stockton ECHL team.

Game On in Meredith next weekend, check it out. Sounds like fun on Golden Pond.

Tom King can be reached at 594-6468 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com.