Today Labatt Blue announced that it will be scrapping the pond hockey rinks on the lake, in lieu of building nine man-made ice rinks on the parking lots at the Erie Basin Marina. With just one week to go, the decision was made to forgo switching to a street hockey format, as weather conditions should allow for the constructed rinks to freeze. Last week's temperature thaw wreaked havoc on lake ice conditions, diminishing hope that the tournament would move forward as scheduled. With just two inches of ice at this time, there was nothing left to do but look toward alternatives. The man-made rinks should prove to keep players happy... at least happier than being relegated to playing street hockey.
In order to move forward quickly, Labatt Blue has teamed up with local rink construction experts, Pace Rinks, to build the nine rinks that will accommodate the 650 registered players and 96 teams who are scheduled to play in the tournament. "We want to put on the best tournament possible. Next week, the weather forecast is cold so we think the man-made rinks are our best opportunity to get players skating on February 9," said Lisa Texido (photo), associate brand manager, Labatt Blue. "We know those who signed up for this tournament are die-hard hockey players who want nothing more than a fun, competitive hockey experience on the ice. Although we couldn't get them on the 'pond' this year, we're giving them the next best thing."
From Labatt Blue:
Ice Rink Construction Details and Schedule:
Friday, Feb. 1: Outline of the nine, 40-by-80 foot ice rinks and boards built; each rink structure will be secured to the Erie Basin Marina parking lot.
Sat. Feb. 2: Rink construction continues. Solid white polyethylene plastic liners will be installed. These liners will create the shell for each rink and the area that will contain the water, which will later freeze. Rinks will then be flooded, using cold lake water. Rink depth will range from four to 12 inches deep. Rinks will be finalized and maintained to ensure even freezing.
Sunday, Feb. 3 - Wed. Feb. 6: Freezing period for ice begins, with spot checks to ensure the process runs smoothly. Pace then uses its specialized ice grinder, a tool which will flatten the ice. Maintenance to rinks continues, including any necessary snow shoveling, removal, etc.
Thurs. Feb. 7- Fri. Feb. 8: Rinks will be treated with hot water baths via a custom tool that will apply a layer of hot water to smooth the surface and coat the ice. Final preparation for rinks and maintenance continues for Saturday hockey play.
Sat. Feb. 9: Rinks will be managed and maintained throughout the tournament day, including periodic hot baths and ice smoothing as needed.
Day-Of Tournament Activity:
In addition to hockey play on-ice, the tournament announces plenty of action for hockey fans and casual spectators. Tournament-goers can expect:
· A huge, heated beer tent with clear viewing panels to watch the hockey action;
· Sabres Alumni players interacting with fans;
· Spotlight hockey game, featuring Buffalo Police vs. Buffalo Fire at 10:30 a.m.;
· Buffalo Sabres ticket giveaways;
· Labatt Blue swag raffles;
· Display featuring all-new Ford vehicles;
· Labatt Blue photo booth;
· WGR-Radio remote with Sal Carpaccio (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.);
· Live dee-jay;
· Variety of food options, including hot pretzels, kettle corn, hot dogs, chili, free coffee and more;
· Plenty of Labatt Blue beer
Tournament hockey action will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 9 and continue until approximately 8:30 p.m. Division final games are slated to begin around 1:30 p.m., with final championship games wrapping under the lights in the evening.