LONDON, ONT. -- Despite playing during a pandemic, and having to adhere to strict COVID-19 guidelines, HockeyFest had record number of participants.

"We had 140 teams, which is 40 more than last year," says Brad Jones, president of the Jones Entertainment Group which organized the event.

Using the five physical addresses at the Westmount Mall in London, Ont., Jones was able to set up five different pods with three rinks in each section.

"The idea is there is never more than 100 people in each contained outdoor space," adds Jones.

"We were taking temperatures, disinfecting the rink boards after every games, and encouraging distancing and masks. We had a 15-point process on how to make people feel safe, and people of all ages are having a blast."

The ball hockey event wrapped up Sunday afternoon with three straight days of perfect weather. He figures with the rapid growth, they should sell out well in advance for the third annual event next May.

"The best complement we got was a thank you for letting our kids feel normal after six months," says Jones.

"It was bit of normalcy and it's fun to see and hear the kids laughter again after being cooped up inside."