By March 18 – when the temperature hit 13 degrees – the ice on the Hay River in front of Fisherman’s Wharf was obviously in no condition for pond hockey.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Polar Pond Hockey will not be going ahead this year.

The annual and popular event – which had been set for March 22 to March 24 – has been nixed by unseasonably warm weather that made the ice on the Hay River basically puddles of water.

Polar Pond Hockey organizers made the cancellation decision at a meeting on Monday evening.

Terry Rowe, chair of the organizing committee, informed The Hub of the decision in a text.

“Cancelling ’til next year,” the text reads. “Won’t be able to maintain the ice all week in this weather.”

Just a couple of days before, organizers had been on the ice in front of Fisherman’s Wharf plowing out rinks on the river.

Even then, the temperature was unseasonably high.

However, organizers were hoping there might be a turn towards cooler temperatures.

“We’re just hoping for a little bit colder weather,” said Rowe on March 17.

There had been some discussion among organizers whether the event should go ahead as scheduled or perhaps be delayed until the following weekend.

By Monday, the temperature had reached 13 degrees, and even by midnight on that day it was still 8 degrees. The daytime temperatures are forecasted to be 5 degrees or above each day leading up to the coming weekend.

Polar Pond Hockey has seen a wide range of temperatures since the event was created in 2007.

“Normally, we get pretty cold weather. It’s March, right,” said Rowe on March 17. “So we’ve had everything. We’ve played in -30. We’ve played in 0.”

As for whether the tournament will be scheduled next year to try to avoid more warm weather, Rowe said it might be in early March.

“We never stick to the exact same date,” he noted.

As of late last week, Rowe said 20 teams had registered for this year’s now-cancelled event, which had put it on pace for between 30-35 teams, including from Yellowknife, Fort Smith and Fort Simpson.

This will be the second year in a row without Polar Pond Hockey. It was not held in 2018 to avoid conflicting with the South Slave Arctic Winter Games and to allow volunteers to concentrate on that international event.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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