On thin ice no longer: Labatt Blue gets creative for Pond Hockey Tournament
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • February 01, 2013 @ 11:50am
As Lake Erie’s water temperature hovers close to freezing just eight days before the scheduled Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament, the organizers found a creative solution—just make the ice themselves.
Labatt Blue USA announced this morning in a press release that nine man-made ice rinks would be constructed by Pace Rinks—another service of Pace Landscaping—to satiate the hockey cravings of the 96 teams and 650 skaters in search of tournament glory.
The Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament remains on schedule for a 12-hour slate on Feb. 9—games begin at 8:30 a.m. and will roll until the championship games conclude around 8:30 p.m. under the lights. If you’re concerned that rink conditions will deteriorate during the day, Pace will be on hand to provide periodic ice baths and handle some smoothing.
Last year under similar unseasonably balmy conditions, when Labatt Blue chose to run the tournament on the Erie Basin Marina parking lot surfaces, only 65 of the 144 original teams opted to compete. Because the tournament requires 12 inches of ice to ensure the safety of the competitors, a “Plan B” was necessary.
With Buffalo’s Winterfest on hiatus for 2013, at least there’s a marquee event to be held Canalside during the cold months. The NHL lockout robbed the downtown area of business, and if the signature open hockey tournament had been canceled or shifted to roller-skates, then the city’s waterfront would continue to lose the momentum it build this past summer.
Here are the details of Pace Rinks’ plans for construction:
The key to the successful rink building includes the use of white polyethylene plastic rink liners, which creates a strong barrier from the solid blacktop surface below. The rink construction process will require a step-by-step approach, which began early this morning and will continue through tournament day.
Kudos to Labatt Blue for arriving at a workable solution that assured that the tournament would be played on the preferred surface. Mother Nature never seems to cooperate, but in 2013, we can circumvent her sometimes.
See Don Nieman’s photo gallery from 2011 when the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament was held on the ice of the Erie Basin Marina.