BUFFALO (WKBW) The man-made ice rinks that covered the parking lot at the Erie Basin Marina were supposed to be covered with hockey players on Saturday. But Mother Nature would simply not cooperate.
"We had to make the call based on safety conditions to cancel the rest of the tournament," Lisa Texido of Labatt Blue said.
Winter weather plus thawing ice added up to the Labatt Pond Hockey Tournament going down the drain, as rinks simply became unplayable Saturday afternoon
"We're totally bummed, this is not how we wanted the day to end. We've had so many curve balls that we've dealt with this year, from first having a frozen lake to sixty degree temperatures, then we switched to Plan B where we're building rinks, and then we get this storm. So it's just been a roller coaster of things," Texido added.
Organizers said safety of the participants was paramount, leaving hundreds of hockey players to simply pack up their gear, some without even playing a game.
"I'm disappointed. My kids finally got to come watch me and we didn't end up playing," Jason Luderman said.
"It's too bad. It's a shame because people came from so far away, a lot of travelers from out of state. Ohio, I saw one from North Carolina," William Blanchard added.
But spirits were still high for many other players. Labatt announced it will give all teams a full refund, even if they played just a game or two.
"It was a lot of fun, even though we only got to play one game. I still enjoyed myself," Randy Krupski said.
"It was fun, we had a good time. We actually beat up on some guys from Philly pretty bad so that made the day kind of worth it," Jason Pietrowski added.
Labatt posted the following statement to their website Saturday:
Labatt Blue Buffalo Pond Hockey Tournament officials announced today the cancellation of all remaining hockey games. Rinks have deteriorated throughout the course of the day, causing unsafe conditions for players. All registered teams will receive a full refund. That includes teams who have already played.
"Dozens of players persevered through really tough ice conditions. Hundreds of fans came out to support and cheer on their favorite teams. We got a few good hours of hockey in before ice conditions became unplayable", said Lisa Texido, associate brand manager for Labatt Blue. "Cheers to the players and hardworking crews who did their best to deal with Mother Nature's latest curveball. The spirit of the guys who play in and prep for these games is exactly what this tournament is all about."