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Pucks drop on man-made ice for Buffalo pond hockey tournament

Despite the unseasonably frigid weather, when the pucks dropped at noon Friday for the 8th annual Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament, games were played on man-made ice.

Almost 1,000 hockey players, representing 144 teams, will compete Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Buffalo RiverWorks on Ganson Street.

The tournament switched to refrigerated rinks after past winters proved unreliable for freezing Lake Erie for natural pond hockey.

Sponsored by Labatt USA, the tournament also includes entertainment: a deejay will be on the scene, and a live performance by Strictly Hip is scheduled for 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

There is an indoor, heated Fan Fest area displaying hockey mural paintings by artist Dave Arrigo, an interactive sled hockey shooting experience for fans, a “snowy” pond hockey photo booth and, of course, samples of Labatt beer.

Games will be played from noon to 8:30 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Sunday. Division Finals will be played from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday and 5:40 to 7:50 p.m. Sunday.