(Buffalo, NY) The Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament is one of Buffalo's favorite winter activities.
Scheduled for early February, 144 teams are signed up to play 4-on-4 hockey games on the frozen waters of Lake Erie.
Registration for this year's event sold out in just 15 minutes.
"If you are just talking hockey players alone, there are over 1000 hockey players," says Brett Carlsen, Associate Brand Manager for Labatt.
The pond hockey tournament runs in conjunction with the Buffalo Winterfest & Powderkeg Festival.
"Estimates from the city say a couple thousand people come in and out," adds Carlsen.
But this year's mild weather is causing a problem - there is no ice forming in Lake Erie.
"We need 12 inches of ice to play safely," comments Brett Carlsen.
Organizers are now worried that with continued mild temperatures over the next few weeks, the pond hockey tournament might have to be cancelled.
Brett Carlsen says 100% of the registration fees will be refunded if the weather forces a cancellation.
Municipal officials are hoping that the pond hockey competition can be saved if Mother Nature doesn't cooperate.
The City of Buffalo is planning to meet with Labatt organizers to talk about other options, and the County of Erie has offered the use of two large outdoor skating rinks in Como Park.
"The best part about it is also the worst part about it," says Carlsen.
"You are out in the weather, Mother Nature dictates that, and we have to listen to her and do what she says."