2017-01-26 / Front Page

Hockey Plans Coming Along

U.P. Pond Hockey Championship at St. Ignace


Chunks of ice and slush fill Moran Bay on an overcast afternoon Monday, January 23. Plans are in place to break up this ice, to be cleared away by wind and currents, so that new, solid ice can form in time for the bay to host the Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championships Friday, February 17, through Sunday, February 19. According to the National Weather Service, below-zero temperatures will settle in at the end of this week. Chunks of ice and slush fill Moran Bay on an overcast afternoon Monday, January 23. Plans are in place to break up this ice, to be cleared away by wind and currents, so that new, solid ice can form in time for the bay to host the Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championships Friday, February 17, through Sunday, February 19. According to the National Weather Service, below-zero temperatures will settle in at the end of this week. One-hundred-eighty-nine teams have so far registered to play in the Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship at St. Ignace Thursday, February 17 through Sunday, February 19, and organizers are hopeful that the tournament can be held on Moran Bay. They have secured the cooperation of the Mackinac Island boat lines to ensure that ice formation there is not disturbed, said Deb Evashevski of the Special Events Committee Monday, January 23. All boat lines agreed to cease operations at the Favorite Dock and the Shepler’s freight dock as of January 15.

As of Monday, January 23, the bay is filled with undesirable broken ice and slush that wind and currents have brought in, but plans are to clear that away so solid ice can form there when temperatures drop. A Star Line boat captained by Mike North will break this up when westerly winds are forecast to blow it out of the harbor.

“It’s nice that all three boat lines are working with us and understand the importance of this event to the community,” Mrs. Evashevski said Monday. The shortest turnaround time to prepare the bay ice for Pond Hockey, she said, was “two weeks, and we ended up with 10 inches of ice.” The results are dependent on temperatures and wind conditions.

Should temperatures prove not cold enough for good ice to form on the bay, a backup plan is already in place to host the tournament outside Little Bear East Arena. Improvements have been made in rink layouts and flooding procedures that would streamline the process used when the tournament was held outside the arena for the first time in 2016.

But, said meteorologist Andy Sullivan with the National Weather Service out of Gaylord, cold winter weather is on its way. By the end of this week, temperatures will be back to their typical January levels, he said Monday, which will include “below-freezing temperatures, even during the day, with lake-effect snow.”

“It will be nice to get back to where we should be for the outdoor enthusiasts,” said Mr. Sullivan of the upcoming wintry weather headed for northern Michigan.

Pond Hockey organizers hope to host about 200 teams, said Debbie Durm of the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau, and some divisions are still open for registration. Teams are grouped into divisions in numbers divisible by eight. Organizers are encouraging more team registrations in the following divisions: 21 and over, 40 and over, 45 and over, and novice. To register, call (800) 338-6660 or go online to www.stignace.com, where tournament rules are posted.

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