Warmer weather postpones Nautical Mile Pond Hockey Winter Classic until February

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. (WXYZ) - The warmer temperatures have postponed a much anticipated hockey tournament aimed at boosting business and tourism in St. Clair Shores.

Getting people to eat at restaurants on the water is easy during the summer, but it is tough filling the tables during the winter along the Nautical Mile.

"Nobody is going to drive 35 minutes to eat here when they pass ten restaurants on the way.  They just aren't going to come by like they would in the summer time," said Nate Ray, manager at Brownie's on the Lake.  He says the restaurant jumped at the chance to be a sponsor for the first annual Nautical Mile Pond Hockey Winter Classic.

"There is nothing that happens like this, especially on the nautical mile," said Ray.

400 people have signed up to play in the four on four hockey tournament that takes place on the canals of Lake St. Clair.  That is a whole lot of business for a city trying to boost business in the off season.  The tournament is supposed to happen the weekend of January 20, but the warmer temperatures have put the classic in danger.

"Some of the canals we have a quarter, to a half inch of ice.  We need to have four inches of ice for people to skate safely, and six inches of ice to get the machines on the ice to help keep it clean," said Shawn Nicholson, a commissioner on the Parks and Recreation board is the brains behind the tournament.

"So many friends talk about going up to St. Ignace for a pond hockey tournament, that I thought it would be neat to do it in St. Clair Shores," said Nicholson.

So as to not risk losing the hockey classic and the tourist traffic, the committee decided to reschedule the winter classic to the weekend of February 10.

"It should be a lot of excitement for people to come," said Nicholson.

 If wildly successful they are looking to turn the tournament into an annual event and possibly a week-long festival in the future. 

Tournament players must be 21 and older.  The event is family friendly and free for spectators.   Team fees to enter the tournament will go to run the event and be donated to youth hockey in St. Clair Shores.

Hockey games will be played on eight rinks, even at night under the lights.

Retired Red Wings player Kirk Maltby is the Grand Marshal of the tournament.

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