Icekahana, pond hockey set for weekend

FAIRMONT – Now that the brutal polar vortex has left the area, milder temperatures are on the way in time for some winter fun this weekend.

This year’s Icekahana and speed run, along with the Pond Hockey tournament, will be held Saturday and Sunday on Hall Lake in Fairmont.

The fourth annual Pond Hockey tournament will take place on the north side of Hall Lake. Activities begin Friday night with a “Rock on Hall Lake” open skating event from 6-8 p.m.

“We’re really excited about our Friday night event,” said Ian Bents, one of the tournament organizers. “Throughout the year, the boys and girls hockey teams do these ‘Rock on Ice’ events, and this time, we’re calling it ‘Rock on Hall Lake.’ It’s for all ages, and it’s free skating, and there will be some rental skates available.”

Tournament play takes place all day Saturday, with the open and championship “frozen four” finals to be held Sunday.

“Traditionally, this is the coldest weekend of the year, so we believe we will have safe ice,” Bents said. “Three out of four years, that has been the case.”

The one year when it wasn’t, the event was held at the Martin County Arena. But in its four years, the tournament has continued to see increased participation. This year will involve six rinks for play.

“Each year has grown consistently,” Bents said. “This year, we have teams from northern Iowa, Worthington, Luverne, the metro area and Duluth. We have about 45 teams this year, with ages from four to adult.”

The youth pond hockey tournaments have proven to be a hit.

“Not all pond hockey events have a youth opportunity to participate,” Bents said. “For us, it’s important to create an experience with the youth and keep them engaged.”

Most of the proceeds are going toward one of the goals of the youth hockey teams in the area.

“One challenge for Fairmont has been we’ve struggled against places like New Ulm, Luverne and the metro that have year-round ice,” Bents said. “To bridge that gap, we’re attempting to purchase synthetic ice for the off-season. We think it will be a nice substitute for year-round ice.”

Proceeds from the past three years also have gone toward synthetic ice, and Bents said the association will be ready to purchase it for the next off-season.

For Icekahana, the biggest change this year is location. Instead of being held on the south end of Budd Lake, the event for snowmobilers will be held at Chain of Lakes Yacht Club, on the south end of Hall Lake.

“The Yacht Club is open this winter and they approached us,” said Bill Krumholz, an Icekahana organizer.

Icekahana and speed runs will take place Saturday and Sunday, with the Yacht Club open to spectators. Participants can register the day of the event.

“We do the timed course on Saturday and then the speed runs on Sunday,” Krumholz said.

Both Icekahana and pond hockey organizers noted the weekend should be good for spectators with temperatures forecast to be in the low to mid-30s.

“It’ll be nice to stand out in 30-degrees instead of below zero wind chill,” Krumholz said.

“It will be interesting to see what it will be like having both events on the same lake,” Bents said. “But the weather looks to cooperate, and we’re excited.”