Hockey players from across the country have descended on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis for the annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships.
Games take place on 26 rinks through Sunday, and organizers say about 2,000 players and 300 teams are participating this year -- the biggest event to date.
Event commissioner Justin Kaufenberg said players have traveled from across the country and from Venezuela. He said it's a unique opportunity for Minnesotans to watch highly skilled players.
"You've got players who have played in the NHL, who have played in the Olympics, who have played Division I hockey," Kaufenberg said, "and everyone's out here to enjoy themselves and just play on the pond the way nature intended, but it gets competitive, too."
The most competitive division is the open division. Each team has six players, with four players on the ice at a time. Each game has two 15-minute halves with a two-minute halftime.
Temperatures were expected to be mild on Friday before dipping for the weekend, but Kaufenberg said the weather shouldn't keep spectators away.
"They shouldn't be turned off by the cold, that's for sure," he said. "I think that's a common misconception, and so any fans that are thinking about coming out, we really hope that they do. The warming tent is about the size of a football field, so we can accommodate literally thousands of people."
A Minnesota-based team called Wright Homes Almost 40 has won the tournament in four of the last seven years.
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