By Al Mattei


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- At the opening ceremonies of the 35th John F. Kennedy Memorial Hockey Tournament, an announcement was made which has been rumored for some time: that the tournament will undergo a change of venue.

According to tournament director Kingdon Gould, the tournament will be held at the University of Maryland, on the campus' recreational turf at the north end of campus.

In addition, the tournament's date will change to late spring, rather than the traditional Columbus Day weekend.

The tournament has been held in Washington since its inception, and has been a fixture on the designated JFK Hockey Fields just off the Reflecting Pool, next to the Lincoln Memorial.

The hockey tournament has seen many international competitors become fixtures at its present grass facility, but at least one competing team did not attend because of concerns surrounding the playability of the surface. A severe drought during the spring and summer, followed by heavy rains in September, made the surface highly inconsistent.

This and other problems should be solved with the move of the tournament to College Park, Md., where there are acres of parking and a three-acre AstroTurf facility where the National Futures Tournament is held every year.

The field is also lighted, meaning that games can be held into the evening if necessary. There is no word as to whether the University of Maryland's stadium turf facility will also be used for the Year 2000 tournament.