MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Snow is hitting the Twin Cities just as the North American Pond Hockey Championship games are getting started.

Not only are we getting ready for a weekend of pond hockey here on Minnetonka, this is also the big weekend for Hockey Day Minnesota activities at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis.

For Outdoor hockey of any kind, shoveling rinks is certainly nothing new. But with anywhere from 6 to 8 inches of snow predicted, it’s going to take a lot of shovels to keep the rink clear.

Hockey Day Minnesota has enlisted 40 volunteers to work in shifts around the clock.

High school games are Saturday, but on Friday night the NHL alumni play as the snow falls.

In the meantime, out at Maynard’s in Excelsior, they don’t have one rink to keep clear. They’ve got 13 rinks to keep clear.

This is the 8th annual North American Pond Hockey Championships, and the Zamboni will refinish the ice, but players will still have to clear snow.

With 560 players coming, that shouldn’t be a problem.

“We did a big recruitment and offered free tickets to Hockey Day Minnesota or the Wild game for 40 people to come all night long in four- to six-hour shifts shoveling,” volunteer Susie MacMillan said.

Organizers say they’d rather have snow than the warm conditions that cancelled past events. And should it get too bad, they can always put away the pucks and switch to balls, which is fine for pond hockey.

The first of the games were just getting underway late Friday morning. They’ll play till about 4 p.m. and then resume Saturday morning at 9 a.m.

In the past seven years, this tournament alone has donated more than $1.3 million to local charities.

Bill Hudson