(01/21/14) - There's no doubt about it, it's been a little chilly outside - perfect conditions for pond hockey.
"It's just hockey the way it is. If you're cold, you're just not skating enough," said Steve McDermaid, of the Lake Fenton Winter Classic.
The third annual Lake Fenton Winter Classic takes over five rinks on Barnum Lake in Fenton Township this weekend. Games begin Saturday morning and run through Sunday afternoon. It's one of only four tournaments sanctioned by Labatt Blue.
"You have to have a tournament that people are actually going to want to come and play in. The biggest sponsor that you can have on your side is Labatt Blue distributors," McDermaid said.
Forty teams will take the ice, with 300 or so players coming in from around the Mid West and Canada - providing a big boost for area businesses and local causes. Last year's tournament raised around $2,000.
"We support the local hockey programs here. A lot of the kids that come out here spend their time refereeing and we make a nice donation to their program to continue the legacy here on the pond," McDermaid said.
As for the pond, early Tuesday morning, volunteers hit the ice for a safety check.
"We've got at least 14 to 16 inches of ice. It's definitely chilly. This year, we didn't have to build boards because mother nature has cooperated. We've got snow banks, so we'll play hockey as it was intended to play right here on Barnum Lake," McDermaid said.
That's an improvement from last year, when conditions were nothing short of soupy at times.
"By two o'clock on Saturday, we ended up calling the games and started again the next morning just for safety issues. This year, we don't foresee any issues," McDermaid said.
Up for grabs again this year is the coveted Des Crowley Memorial Cup. The only downside to these frigid temperatures is that the winning team won't be able to celebrate in the most proper and traditional fashion.
"You can't kiss the cup. Well, you can, but you just might not be able to take it back off your lips," McDermaid said.
The Lake Fenton Winter Classic begins with a kickoff party Friday night at the Fireplace, right on Barnum Lake.
For a schedule of events, click HERE.
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