‘Unstable Ice’ Prompts Cancellation of Pond Hockey Classic

Second time in three years the Kalispell hockey tournament has been canceled

By Justin Franz
Lanny McDonald breaks away towards the goal at the Montana Pond Hockey Classic at Foys Lake on Jan. 20, 2017. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

For the second time in three years, the Montana Pond Hockey Classic has been canceled.

The hockey tournament was scheduled for this weekend, Jan. 19-21, but on Monday organizers announced that “unstable ice conditions” across Northwest Montana had forced them to cancel the annual event yet again.

“We are terribly disappointed to have to cancel this annual event, but our first priority is safety,” said Diane Medler, director of the Kalispell Convention and Visitor Bureau. “The nature of an outdoor hockey tournament is that it can be impacted by weather, and Mother Nature has been unusually unpredictable this year.”

The event was scheduled to take place at Foys Lake, but late last week organizers realized the ice would not be thick enough there and began to look for alternative sites. However, warm weather and snow impacted alternative sites as well, and officials decided to call it off.

The Kalispell pond hockey event, which has been organized in conjunction with Pond Hockey Classic since 2014, has dealt with its share of unfortunate circumstances. In 2015, it had to be moved from Foys Lake to Woodland Park in downtown Kalispell due to poor ice conditions. In 2016, it was canceled because even the ice at Woodland Park would not hold. In 2017, the event was moved from February to January in hopes of taking advantage of colder weather, and while that helped last year, it has not panned out for this year’s event.

Temperatures are expected to stay in the 30s all week, and rain is forecasted on Thursday.

“The fluctuating temperatures and snow caused the ice to form in a way we haven’t seen in our nine years of hosting these events,” said Scott Crowder, commissioner of Pond Hockey Classic. “The only way for the ice to have corrected itself would have been a deep freeze — something that we have not experienced and that is not forecasted for this region.”

Pond Hockey Classic has been organizing tournaments in New Hampshire and Vermont for nearly a decade. The Kalispell Convention and Visitor Bureau helped bring the event to Montana in 2014 in hopes of attracting more people to the Flathead Valley in the winter. This year, 75 teams had registered to play from across the United States and Canada.

Although the Pond Hockey Classic refund policy states no refunds will be given within the 10-day window of the event, the event producer has offered to refund all but the nonrefundable deposit of $100 to teams that had registered for the tournament. Teams that still make the trek to Kalispell are invited to a gathering at Moose’s Saloon in downtown Kalispell on Thursday night, January 18, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.