Pond hockey will return to Lake Minnetonka this weekend, and when the skaters hit the ice, they'll notice that crews have put in a little extra effort this year.
Although it's still the same simple game, the ice is about to get an upgrade because in addition to the traditional shovel used for prepping and cleaning the ice, there's a few new tools -- including home-made ice resurfacers.
"We're taking pond hockey to the next level here," Craig Norby said.
The ice on the lake may not be perfect, but that's not for lack of trying. The state of hockey is host to many homemade rinks, and one metro rink now has four home-bonis to go with it.
"It's our little interpretation of what a Zambonis would look like if you could use it outside and had limited funds," Tim Jenzer explained.
For the volunteers responsible for managing the ice at the Pond Hockey North American Championships, this is their third generation of the home-made ice resurfacing machines. In fact, they built four identical units with larger holding tanks that will be pulled behind an ATV this year.
"We put the fire hose in here," Norby said. "We fill 'em with 240 gallons of water -- roughly."
Each home-boni holds enough water to resurface one rink.
"Then we turn a valve, open up the water, lay this down and then it comes out a nice rate," Norby continued.
On Thursday, the first test-drive was taken in sub-zero temperatures.
"Ideally, you'd like about 10 degrees," Jenzer said. "This is freezing really fast, so we're getting about an eighth of an inch of ice every time we drop water on it."
So far, crews have been able to get at least two coats on each rink, and they'll eave the rink another coat after Friday's games. Then, they'll be re-coating the ice while rotating rinks during the tournament.
The tournament runs from Friday through Sunday, and 65 teams in four divisions are expected to compete. There are 159 games scheduled in all, and all proceeds will benefit Defending the Blue Line.
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