MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Organizers of this week’s U.S. Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis say the ice should be fine, even though daytime temperatures are expected to remain above freezing from the time the tournament starts on Friday until the five division champions are crowned and the coveted Golden Shovel is handed out on Sunday.
Because the area of the lake where the rinks are set up isn’t too deep, there isn’t much water movement beneath that would churn the ice from below. That means a thick, safe layer of ice.
“One of the great things about Nokomis being a smaller body of water with less movement in the water, we were able to get over a foot of ice thickness over the last couple of weeks,” tournament spokesperson Jim Dahlein said.
Last weekend’s North American Pond Hockey tournament on Lake Minnetonka was cut short because of unsafe ice conditions. Organizers noted fracturing and thinning of the ice surface about midway through the event.
“The playing surface is the one thing we’ve been talking about,” Dahlein said. “With the little bit warmer weather, the ice just gets a little bit softer. That’s just pond hockey.”
The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, now in its 11th year in Minneapolis, starts with opening ceremonies Friday morning not far from the Lake Nokomis beach. The first year of the tournament was held on Lake Calhoun, but it’s been on Nokomis ever since.
“The twenty different measurement points were anywhere between 11-and-a-half to 14 inches (of ice),” Dahlein said. “So that’s going to be plenty for us to have everybody out there.”
The tournament was supposed to be played earlier in January, but organizers moved the dates to the end of the month after a mild start to the winter prevented a safe coat of ice from forming on Nokomis. The original dates were that weekend where temperatures were well below zero, which would have made it uncomfortable for players and anyone who wanted to come out and watch the tournament.
Temperatures are expected to be above 30 degrees every day of the tournament.