Winter has come just in the nick of time for the organizers of the Under the Lock hockey tournament. The event, which boast one of the country’s most unique hockey settings, was at risk of cancelling if Jack Frost hadn’t have intervened.
Having confirmed the weather reports for this weekend, the organizers announced Wednesday that the tournament would go ahead as scheduled. Although not ideal, the conditions should be more than adequate for a successful event.
“We didn’t have fears of the depth of ice,” stated tournament committee member David Smith. “Our only fear was that it would be warm enough to rain.”
City staff who monitor and maintain the site between Locks 20 and 21 for public skating reported the average ice thickness at 9.6 inches. Smith and the tournament committee have been in constant communication with city maintenance crews over the last two months. The ice could have been as thick as 5.6 inches for the tournament to safely take place.
Now in its third year, the Under the Lock hockey tournament takes place on the Trent Canal at the base of the world’s largest hydraulic liftlock. It is arguably one of the world’s most impressive backdrops for an outdoor sporting event.
Still in its infancy compared to other tournaments, the event has been gaining in popularity over its short existence, having expanded almost three-fold since its inception. This year’s event boasts 43 entries from tyke to bantam and has expanded to include 4 peewee girls’ teams. In the past, girl’s games were only exhibition.
The tournament, which is the creation of the Peterborough Community Church Hockey League, is the work of numerous volunteers and committee members. It wouldn’t have been possible without them and the cooperation of several governing bodies to make it happen.
“We had to get special permission from Hockey Canada, the Federal government and the city, “stated Smith.
The site is under the authority of Parks Canada, as it serves as a water way during the summer months and the city maintains the site as an outdoor public skating rink during the winter. Hockey Canada had to ensure that proper safety precautions were met, which Parks Canada was instrumental in providing.
“It’s the only tournament in Ontario, sanctioned by minor hockey which takes place on a body of water,” states Smith.
While other competitions take place on lakes around the province, none are sanctioned by the Ontario Minor Hockey Association.
Initially a boy’s league tournament only, the event is now a joint venture between the PCCHL and its sister league, the Peterborough Girls Hockey League, which accounts for the elevation of the girls games from exhibition to official tournament play.
Weather for the weekend is said to be minus five with the wind-chill and a chance of upwards of 5 cm of snow.
“It’s a little warm,” says Smith who states -10 and partly cloudy would have been perfect weather conditions.
Hockey arenas are kept on average at minus nine and don’t have to contend with distractions like snow. However at this point, Mother Nature seems content to be a good host with conditions a far cry from Monday’s weather which saw significant rain fall.
Regardless of the weather, the first pucks are scheduled to drop at 7:30 am Saturday January 28 morning. Championships games will begin Sunday January 29 at 1:45pm. For full tournament details go to www.underthelock.com