Skip to main content

Balmy December puts US Pond Hockey Championship on thin ice

  • Author:
  • Updated:

An unusually warm December is putting an annual pond hockey tournament on thin ice.

The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, which draws hundreds to Lake Nokomis every January, is closely monitoring the forecast over the next 10 days to determine if changes need to be made to this year's tournament, which runs Jan. 14-17, the organization posted on its Facebook page Thursday.

Last week, Lake Nokomis – and Lake Minnetonka, where the North American Pond Hockey Championship is held in January – had wide open water, MPR News reported. By Friday, Nokomis had a thin layer of ice at the shoreline, but it was only an inch thick, WCCO adds.

Ideally, ice on Lake Nokomis would be 10-plus inches thick for the event, WCCO says, but the tournament could go on if there's just 6-8 inches of ice, however that means spectators wouldn't be allowed on the ice, reports note.

The forecast isn't looking very promising. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center shows Minnesota as having above-average temperatures into January, which means tournament organizers may have to start working on an alternative plan.

U.S. Pond Hockey Championship organizers plan to know more next week on whether they'll need to use one of their contingency plans, which include pushing back the date of the tournament and holding the tournament at a different location, reports note, but there's no chance it would move indoors, organizers told WCCO.

The average ice-in date for Lake Nokomis is Dec. 1, with the latest ice-in date being Dec. 20, 2001, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' website shows. (Typically, the ice-in date refers to when the entire lake is frozen over for the first time and the ice cover remains for the rest of winter, the DNR notes.)

And MPR meteorologist Paul Huttner says there's a 50-50 shot Lake Minnetonka's Excelsior Bay will be at least 18 inches thick for the North American Pond Hockey Tournament, which is held Jan. 21-24. Organizers of that tournament will meet Dec. 28 to decide more about the future of this year's event, MPR News says.

Lake Minnetonka's average ice-in date is Dec. 7, with the latest ice-in date being Jan. 2, 2001, the DNR's website shows.

Above-average temperatures recently have been hurting other businesses and events that rely on snow and cold weather in the winter, including the cancellation of the Sandstone Ice Festival.

Next Up


Hero dad who stopped carjacker who fled with his kids identified

A GoFundMe has been set up to support Derek Gotchie and his family following the incident.

Screen Shot 2022-12-03 at 4.35.18 PM

Watch: New London-Spicer wins 3A championship on incredible walk-off TD

New London-Spicer defeated the unbeaten Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in remarkable circumstances.


Suspect in woman's killing in Moorhead is arrested

James Kollie Jr. was arrested Friday evening.

Jennifer Carnahan

Former chair Jennifer Carnahan sues Minnesota GOP, which is suing her back

Carnahan stepped down under a cloud of controversy in August 2021.

Minneapolis Fire Department

One injured after leaping from burning vacant building in Minneapolis

Authorities say the building is known to be used by squatters.


Head-on crash leaves two drivers dead in southeastern Minnesota

The crash happened in Houston County just before 4 p.m. Friday.


Charges: Armed man made death threats at Minneapolis LGBTQ bar

The man allegedly used derogatory terms while threatening to kill someone.


FDA pulls last COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment as new variants rise

A therapy used to treat more than 11,000 Minnesotans is no longer authorized amid a surge in the latest COVID-19 variants.

Austin Robert LeClaire

Charges: Plymouth man shot girlfriend in head after birthday party

The 23-year-old victim is in critical condition as of Friday.


State announces $2.5M in grants for child care providers

Child care providers in roughly a dozen communities will receive funds to help grow the supply of affordable, quality child care.


Probe of Golden Valley police uncovers racism, alleged misconduct

One officer was terminated for alleged racist comments and violations of state law.

blowing snow

Blowing snow Friday in Minnesota; will it snow next week?

Winds could gust up to 50 mph Friday afternoon and night.