Bitter cold and snow could body check Hockey Day Minnesota

The ice for Hockey Day Minnesota is ready for whatever the weather may bring.

Dangerously cold temperatures and several inches of snow are adding challenges to the weekend of activities for the 14th Annual Hockey Day Minnesota.

The three-day event starts on Thursday with girls' high school hockey games. Temperatures are forecasted to be in the single digits. In some ways those cold temperatures are helping crews get the outdoor rink ready. 

“Outdoor rinks come with challenges. Lots of them. It’s mostly Mother Nature that creates our challenges,” rink operations manager Matt Hennen said. 

With fluctuating temperatures, changes in sunlight and dew points, Hennen says getting an outdoor rink ready for a weekend of high-level hockey games comes with many hiccups. He says while the cold is helping the rink get a good freeze, snow expected on Friday and Saturday could have major impacts on the rink quality. 

“We are going to shovel 24 hours a day and we’re going to keep it exposed to Mother Nature’s god-given cold atmosphere pressure and work with that,” Hennen said. 

“It’s Minnesota. It’s no big deal. But yes we’re watching it. [We’re] well prepared for it,” Hockey Day Minnesota Chairman Mike McMillan said. 

He says if temperatures get too cold or if the snow is too much to bear they do have a back-up plan to hold scheduled games in the Parade Park indoor ice rink just a few hundred feet away from the outdoor rink. 

“Hey if it snows, it just adds to the flavor of Hockey Day in the state of Minnesota, right? That’s what we’re all about. You don’t duck from, it you just embrace it,” McMillan said. 

On Thursday girls' high school hockey teams take the ice. On Friday Hockey Day Minnesota events include an NHL All-Star game. On Saturday high school boys play and the University of Minnesota Women’s Hockey Team faces Ohio State.