By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — What gets 70 people, all volunteers, excited to spend their Saturday morning outdoors in subzero weather? What else but pond hockey?

“It harkens back to my youth I guess, and skating out on the backyard ponds,” Tim Jenzer said, “and just getting outside and for the love of nature and the love of hockey, just being outside playing with your buddies.”

Exciting as they built their 14 rinks on Lake Minnetonka this morning because they’ll actually get to play hockey at their hockey tournament this year. After two years of unseasonably warm weather forced the North American Pond Hockey Championships to cancel the hockey portion of their festival, they’re excited to be back on the pond.

“We love bean bags, but we’d rather be on the ice,” Jenzer said.

The nonprofit festival has grown since it started six years ago, now including three concerts, a bean bag tournament, tent games, a 5K run and a raffle.

“It’s just kept going. It built momentum,” J Lindsay said.

This year it’ll benefit a nonprofit called DinoMights.

“Providing opportunities for tutoring and mentoring and hockey for kids that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it,” Lindsay said.

And this year’s especially important not just for the return of the ice. They expect to surpass the million dollar mark of money raised since they started.

“We all want to do our best and help our neighbors, and that’s what makes Minnesota a special place to live,” Lindsay said. “And embracing winter, and the hockey culture and pond hockey culture is a great part of our state.”

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