With the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament just days away, crews are finishing up the rinks. YNN's Antoinette DelBel has more on game day preparations and whether those plans will be affected by the winter storm expected to hit the area Friday.
BUFFALO, N.Y. - The hay bales are being stacked and the tents pitched. City of Buffalo crews were making final preparations for the sixth annual Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament Saturday.
"We have a huge tent this year. It's heated. It has clear viewing panels, so we're really encouraging the public to come down, cheer these guys on," said Lisa Texido, the associate brand manager for Labatt Blue.
Pace Landscaping and Ice Rinks were also preparing for the big day as crews sprayed the surfaces of nine man-made ice rinks with water for that glossy finish.
"We've ground the surfaces down for a nice flat surface, and now it's just a matter of layering - putting thin layers of water of top, letting it freeze, then another layer on top, and then we just get multiple layers on top of the ice surface," said Michael Pace, the president of Pace Landscaping and Ice Rinks.
Mild temperatures and the possibility of Lake Erie not freezing in time prompted Labatt Blue organizers to go with "Plan B" - man-made rinks on the marina parking lot. That way, teams could still play on ice.
And although the lake may seem pretty solid, Texido said it's not enough to drop the puck on game day.
"For players to be able to step on the ice and safely play on event day, we need at least a foot to start that off,” she said. “I heard anecdotally that yesterday, we had a measurement of about six (inches)."
This week's weather, according to Pace, was perfect for ice making. And with the threat of a winter snow storm dumping inches of snow on Friday, organizers said there's no threat of the tournament being cancelled.
Pace said they're ready for whatever Mother Nature brings.
"We've got a real strong base right now that is skate-able and walk-able, and if we get any snow, it's as easy as shoveling it off or getting snow blowers and getting it off of the ice," he said.
Rink preps will continue Friday and will be ready in time for the 96 teams to hit the ice Saturday morning.