Concord Black Ice hockey tournament postponed to February

  • A scene from the Concord’s Black Ice Pond Hockey tournament on Feb. 10, 2017. The 2017 outdoor tournament was delayed two weeks to its backup date due to warm weather, and it’s set to be pushed back this year as well. Monitor file

  • A “Keep Off”€™ sign sits on the ice area of White Park on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. The 2018 Black Ice tournament has been delayed for two weeks with the weather not cooperating today or later in the week. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Tuesday, January 23, 2018

New Hampshire was home to some of the coldest weather on the planet earlier this month. Three weeks later, the forecast for Concord calls for temperatures in the 40s.

Such wild swings are part of winter life in New England, but the high temperatures hit a fatal threshold for an outdoor ice hockey tournament scheduled for this weekend.

The annual Black Ice Pond Hockey Championships, originally set to run Friday through Sunday at White Park in Concord, have been postponed by two weeks due to impending wet and warm weather.

Black Ice board Chairman Chris Brown said in an email that the event has been pushed to Feb. 9-11, and that the schedule will remain the same aside from the date change. The decision was made Sunday night.

“Thought we were okay, until this weekend,” Brown wrote, noting that Saturday – when the tournament would have 196 games on eight rinks – is predicted to see temperatures top 40 degrees.

According to the National Weather Service, the high for this week should come Tuesday, accompanied by a wintry mix and then rain. The week then chills gradually – with below freezing temperatures on Thursday and Friday – before it’s expected to warm up again over the weekend, with a high of 41 degrees and a chance of rain and snow showers Saturday night and a high of 48 degrees on Sunday.

The warm weather probably wouldn’t melt away too much of White Park’s ice, which has a healthy layer of 12 to 15 inches, said David Gill, director of city’s Parks & Recreation department. But it would make the surface slushy, and not great to play on. He pointed to skating conditions this past weekend during the Winter Carnival event as an example.

“On Saturday, there was great ice to skate on until about 2 p.m., when we had standing water and it was slushy,” Gill said. “It’s not good quality for the games.”

Unpredictable weather is built into the Black Ice contingency plans. Gill noted a backup date – always two weeks later – is advertised along with the original date.

The tournament is in its eighth year. This is at least the third time Black Ice has been delayed due to warm weather. The event was pushed two weeks last year but otherwise carried on like usual, but, in 2012, even a two-week delay wasn’t enough to prevent several games from being canceled due to slushy ice.

Historically, Black Ice weekend weather has ranged all over the place. The weather hovered around – and sometimes dipped below – zero degrees during the 2013 and 2014 tournaments. In contrast, the temperature never went below 10 degrees, but often hung in the 30s, 40s and even once the 50s during the 2012, 2015 and 2016 events.

Gill said all of the city’s outdoor ice skating facilities are closed Monday. He expected them to be open again by Thursday afternoon, when the weather was supposed to get cooler, but may be closed again by the weekend.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)