Syracuse Pond Hockey Classic gets creative with no ice on Hiawatha Lake

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – Hiawatha Lake used to be the ideal spot for the Pond Hockey Classic with six natural sheets of fresh solid ice.

But once again, Mother Nature isn’t playing nice with the ice.

Organizers of the Classic planned for this, switching the event to Clinton Square. While the Clinton Square Ice Rink isn’t as big as Hiawatha Lake, there’s something to say about playing under the lights.

“Historically, we’ve had to finish before the sun goes down because there’s no lighting at Hiawatha Lake, but being down at Clinton Square, that was kind of the idea. Part of the attraction, I think too, is for players playing under the lights,” Tim O’Donnell, the tournament organizer, said.

The history of the Pond Ice Classic has been bumpy. The first one was held in early 2020, the next was canceled in 2021, a very cold event followed in 2022, and it was canceled last year.

This year’s tournament play will still host 16 teams but on two rinks instead of six. They will play all day and into the night under city lights.

“I wanted to come up with an alternative plan, and I felt pretty strongly that we needed to have it downtown this year just to kind of proof of concept to show that we could have a great event down there in the event that we needed to do it down there in the future more often,” O’Donnell said.

No matter the weather, they can keep the ice in Clinton Square cold enough to play, guaranteeing the puck will drop.

“Last event, it was -25, and the beer froze. I don’t think we’re going to have that problem this year, so beer should be flowing,” O’Donnell said.

Even with temperatures in the 40s, teams will battle it out, scoring a win for the Syracuse Pond Hockey Classic. The tournament starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, January 27, and the final round of competition is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

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