For the first time since 2017, Polar Pond Hockey will be returning this coming weekend to the ice of the Hay River.
And Terry Rowe, an executive member of Polar Pond Hockey, said everyone is “very happy” to be back.
Rowe explained the event skipped 2018 when Hay River hosted the Arctic Winter Games because that international event also happened in March and relied on the same volunteer base.
“And last year I think we were about a week later, and the weather just didn’t hold up,” he said. “It was super nice and we couldn’t get out there to flood the ice and there was a lot of water on there. So, unfortunately, we had to cancel last year.”
Rowe said organizers weren’t nervous about a repeat of the warm weather as this year’s event dates approached – March 13-15.
“Of course, there’s always the thought in your mind,” he said. “But I believe that was the first year that we had to cancel due to warm weather.”
This March has returned to more seasonal temperatures.
“I mean everybody wants to see -5 or -10, but perfect weather would be around that -15 so we could still flood the ice during the games,” said Rowe. “I think we should have good weather.”
Last year, the event was planned for March 22-24 before the warm weather led to its cancellation.
Rowe noted there are good signs about the number of teams that will register for the event, despite the two-year absence.
Organizers usually aim for 35-40 teams, and there were 23 teams registered as of late February, including nine out-of-town teams.
“I think we should be pretty close to that 35 mark, at least,” Rowe said.
This year will see Polar Pond Hockey using the Town of Hay River’s new pavilion at Fisherman’s Wharf, instead of a large tent on the ice of the Hay River.
“It’s a great venue for the town and a great venue for us,” said Rowe. “We’ve been trying to help where we can from the start. We were a contributor financially towards the project and with the town financially, and through a little bit of project management. It’s a beautiful, beautiful building. The town did an amazing job. And we’re really looking forward to being the first ones to use it.”
The Polar Pond Hockey organization donated $50,000 towards the pavilion project.