Two warm weeks melted plans for Door County Pond Hockey for the second straight year.
Brian Fitzgerald, director of the decade-old annual hockey tournament, this week told dozens of teams he saw little chance of getting rinks ready in Sister Bay.
Checking all of the different weather models and forecasts, Fitzgerald found none that showed any stretches of below-freezing temperatures Feb. 6-10. He and volunteers will prepare and hope for better conditions next year, Feb. 8, 2025.
“A lot of these teams, they’re coming the week of the tournament anyway,” Fitzgerald said, adding that some players will just enjoy a weekend in Door County.
Door County wasn’t the only one to give up on a weekend hockey rendezvous this winter. Eagle River’s Pond Hockey National Championships, which had options of using lakes or the county fairgrounds for 20 rinks, canceled its Feb. 9-11 tourney.
Longtime Door County Pond Hockey competitor Bryan Burlingame of the Milwaukee area prefers the Door County event over others and planned to bring two teams.
Burlingame said he likes the atmosphere, the location near Sister Bay lodging, dining and bars, and the chance to warm up on a rink or lake on Friday, play throughout Saturday and get home at a decent hour on Sunday.
But forecasts showed highs in the 40s during tournament week.
“The last couple winters, it’s been a hard event to pull off,” Fitzgerald said. “The weather, there are just so many different scenarios that can come into play, but when it comes together, it’s great.”
Fitzgerald said Sister Bay Advancement Association has been wonderful to work with, and so have volunteers.
“It takes a lot of folks to pull this off,” Fitzgerald said of the people who flood the rink periodically to build up a base and create as smooth of surface as possible for the competition day.
When everything works out, the feedback, said Fitzgerald, “is pretty rewarding.”