It rained, hailed, snowed and the sun came out on the first day of the seventh annual Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament.
But to the delight of players and organizers, games on new refrigerated rinks were unaffected by the weather.
“We’ve run the gamut, and it’s only 5 o’clock and we’re still doing really well,” said Lisa Texido, Labatt brand manager, just before the sun began to set in a rosy peach sky.
As night fell after the first day of the two-day event, many of the 120 teams with 800 players had already played two games on the six pond hockey rinks set up outside at Buffalo RiverWorks on Ganson Street by the General Mills plant.
“It’s probably the best ice I’ve ever played on,” said Chris Hellerman of the Hanson Brothers, named in honor of characters in the 1977 comedy “Slap Shot.”
After two years of weather too warm to keep ice hard enough for hockey, he was feeling grateful for the solid skating surface.
This year’s tournament, across the Buffalo River from River Fest Park, just south of the Michigan Avenue bridge, resumes at 7:30 a.m. today and goes to 8 p.m., with champions to be crowned in 11 divisions.
Today’s highlights include a 10:40 a.m. game between the Buffalo Police Department and the Buffalo Fire Department, and live music from Empire State from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Division finals are scheduled for 5:50 p.m. to 7:20 p.m.