Figuring it's highly unlikely that the lake will form the 12 inches of ice needed for the tournament, Labatt Blue has partnered with a local firm to build nine ice rinks on the surface of the Erie Basin Marina.
Lisa Texido, associate brand manager with Labatt Blue, says crews started building the rinks on Friday morning and will fill them with water on Saturday.
"From there, the water will set so ice can form. At the end of next week, come Thursday, Friday, the crews will be out there again to prep and groom and really get the ice ready," Texido explained during a Friday morning news conference.
Labatt Blue is working with Pace Landscaping and Ice Rinks, which builds dozens of ice rinks annually throughout the region. Company president Michael Pace explained part of the construction process.
"Once the shells are built, we put down a polyethylene liner that holds the water in," he said.
Texido says they're just happy the 96 teams with 650 registered players involved will have the chance to play outdoor ice hockey in this year's tournament.
Ice Rink Construction Details and Schedule:
- Friday, Feb. 1: Outline of the nine, 40-by-80 foot ice rinks and boards built; each rink structure will be secured to the Erie Basin Marina parking lot.
- Sat. Feb. 2: Rink construction continues. Solid white polyethylene plastic liners will be installed. These liners will create the shell for each rink and the area that will contain the water, which will later freeze. Rinks will then be flooded, using cold lake water. Rink depth will range from four to 12 inches deep. Rinks will be finalized and maintained to ensure even freezing.
- Sunday, Feb. 3 – Wed. Feb. 6: Freezing period for ice begins, with spot checks to ensure the process runs smoothly. Pace then uses its specialized ice grinder, a tool which will flatten the ice. Maintenance to rinks continues, including any necessary snow shoveling, removal, etc.
- Thurs. Feb. 7- Fri. Feb. 8: Rinks will be treated with hot water baths via a custom tool that will apply a layer of hot water to smooth the surface and coat the ice. Final preparation for rinks and maintenance continues for Saturday hockey play.
- Sat. Feb. 9: Rinks will be managed and maintained throughout the tournament day, including periodic hot baths and ice smoothing as needed.
Rink construction experts at Pace noted that the upcoming week’s cold temperatures will provide optimum conditions for ice rink formation and freezing.
Day-Of Tournament Activity:
In addition to hockey play on-ice, the tournament announces plenty of action for hockey fans and casual spectators. Tournament-goers can expect:
· A huge, heated beer tent with clear viewing panels to watch the hockey action;
· Sabres Alumni players interacting with fans;
· Spotlight hockey game, featuring Buffalo Police vs. Buffalo Fire at 10:30 a.m.;
· Buffalo Sabres ticket giveaways;
· Labatt Blue swag raffles;
· Display featuring all-new Ford vehicles;
· Labatt Blue photo booth;
· WGR-Radio remote with Sal Capaccio (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.);
· Live dee-jay;
· Variety of food options, including hot pretzels, kettle corn, hot dogs, chili, free coffee and more;
· Plenty of Labatt Blue beer
Tournament hockey action will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 9 and continue until approximately 8:30 p.m. Division final games are slated to begin around 1:30 p.m., with final championship games wrapping under the lights in the evening.