LAKE NOKOMIS, Minn. (WCCO) — The eighth-annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships begins this weekend, and the player with most unpredictable moves ever year is the weather.
Last year, organizers were sweating it out with worry if the tournament would even go on. This year? Conditions are much better.
“It was extremely mild leading up to the tournament,” said Carson Kipfer, Co-Commissioner of U.S. Pond Hockey Championships. “But then we had a week-long cold snap that gave us the ice depth that we needed.”
This year, cold temperatures and an ice thickness of nearly 24 inches on Lake Nokomis have melted away cancellation concerns.
Nearly 300 teams comprised of 1,800 players will take to the ice. Up to 30,000 spectators are expected to attend the tournament, which begins Friday and runs through the weekend.
Sunday is set to be the coldest day of the tournament by far, but that’s the day the championship games are played, so spectators aren’t likely to stay away because of single-digit temperatures.
Refuge from the cold for players, spectators, and 250 volunteers will be found in a massive warming tent, where hot food and beverages will be served.
The tournament had started out on Lake Calhoun, but unseasonable winter warmth struck the following year in 2007, so Lake Calhoun did not have sufficient ice depth.
The tournament was moved to Lake Nokomis, which is shallower at 33 feet than the 89-foot depth of Lake Calhoun.