MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The 12th annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships are set to take place this weekend at Minneapolis’ Lake Nokomis — with the most teams they have ever had.

But our January thaw put the games in doubt for a while.

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“Every single year I worry about the weather,” said spokesman Jim Dahline.

He was worried for good reason. There has been some standing water on Lake Nokomis for the past two years during the championships, and it looked like it was going to be a three-peat this year.

“Came out here Monday and it was pure slush. Came out here yesterday and couldn’t believe it was hard ice,” Dahline said.

Cooler temperatures and a cool breeze on Lake Nokomis arrived just in time to help workers get things ready.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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“I’m happy it’s getting below freezing now,” said worker Matt Olson.

There will be 300 teams totaling 2,200 players from 42 different states, and one player coming all the way from England. But while Mother Nature gets a stick tap for her ice work, parking will be different.

The softball field where fans and players normally park is right across the street from Lake Nokomis. While that January thaw did not have much of an impact on the ice, it did impact the parking area.

“Even though it’s covered in snow right now, what’s down below would be ripped up, and that’s not something we’d be willing to do,” Dahline said.

Nokomis Parkway will now turn into a one-way street beginning at Thursday at 4 p.m., and fans and players can park on the left side of the street.

There will also be a shuttle that will pick people up around the lake. It is a slight adjustment to what should otherwise be a great weekend for hockey.

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“The temperatures this weekend, I couldn’t ask for better temperatures,” Dahline said. “Not only for the participants, but for the athletes. And the way the ice is going to be, it’s going to be just perfect all weekend.”

John Lauritsen