No ice means no tournament

Winter Classic cancelled again in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | Online Only | Published January 15, 2013

ST. CLAIR SHORES -- With a January thaw that climbed above 60 degrees, hopes for the first annual Lake St. Clair Pond Hockey Winter Classic melted with the ice on Lake St. Clair.

Despite temperatures in the low 20s on the day the decision was made and forecasts for temperatures around the freezing mark for the week ahead, organizers had to call the tournament off for the second year in a row because of a lack of ice in the canal between Brownie’s on the Lake and Emerald City Marina, where the games were to be played Jan. 25-27. Four inches of ice was needed to hold the players on 48 teams and six inches of ice was required to get any machinery on the canal. All teams will receive full refunds.

“It’s still open water there (and) we’re 10 days out,” said Shawn Nicholson, vice president of the St. Clair Shores Hockey Association, on Jan. 15. “I believe we have to cancel it at this time.”

Parks and Recreation Director Greg Esler said there is still so much enthusiasm for the event that they hope the third time will be the charm in 2014.

“This year, I think that we need to do some observations, look at the surrounding areas, maybe looking at Blossom Heath, maybe look at the possibility next year of creating our own ice rinks,” he said. “You only got two strikes right now.

“I think we observe this year, find the spots that are freezing and maybe even make an alternate date next year. I don’t think it’s something that we want to give up on.”

In a meeting of organizers at Civic Arena where the decision was made, Nicholson suggested in 2014 that they give two weekends to prospective teams so there is already an alternate scheduled.

“Right off the bat, we have to go to two weekends,” he said.

Esler said that over two years, organizers that included his department, the hockey association, Brownie’s on the Lake, Henry Ford Health System and the Nautical Mile Merchant’s Association had met 42 different times to hammer out details for the outdoor hockey tournament.

“There was a lot of time that was consumed putting this thing together,” he said.

But acting City Manager Mike Smith said St. Clair Shores continues to stand behind the idea and efforts.

“This is a program we believe in,” he said. “Next year, you want to have two dates and have that third option, if possible, that we can fake it — build ponds.

“I do think you’re making the right decision. We haven’t used that third strike yet.”