INLET, N.Y. (WKTV) - It started out as a pick-up game five years ago on First Lake. Now in it's fifth year, the Adirondack Ice Bowl is played on Fourth Lake and draws a much bigger crowd than its early days.
"This year we started out with minus 32 temperatures and we've kind of been below zero ever since which makes for really great ice," says Jim O'Brien, executive director of the Adirondack Ice Bowl.
Really great ice, rosy cheeks and chattering teeth: It's all part of the deal when it comes to pond hockey. Some players were strapping on their skates for the first time in a while, others were more up to speed, but everyone was playing for fun!
This year, the event is expected to draw a crowd of as many as 10,000 people thanks to the recent blast of winter weather. "Last year we missed the whole snowmobiling community because of the bad weather," said O'Brien. "I anticipate this being even bigger this year."
Four rinks are built by a team of organizers. Every weekend in January, the organizers clear the snow off the lake so these rinks are possible.
All of the action takes place behind The Woods Inn, owned by Jay Latterman and his wife. Latterman says this is an event the community looks forward to every year. "The hockey players are here because they love the camaraderie. They like the event, they like the naturalness of being on natural ice as opposed to an actual arena. That's special," said Latterman. "Families and friends are here to experience it with them. It's a diversion during the wintertime for a lot of different people."
This is the first year Brian Grady's schedule has been open for him to take part in the Ice Bowl. Despite the temperatures hovering around zero degrees, he was able to stay warm. "It goes back to when we were growing up on ponds playing hockey," says Grady. "You don't even recognize it (the cold) when you are out there. You are moving around playing hockey. You're sweating. You are having fun. You are warm. You know. You stand around and it gets a little colder. But it's good."
If at any point the cold gets too much, there are fire pits set up along the lake to keep the players and fans warm. There are also vendors set up with warm food and warm beverages. You can also stop by The Ice Bar on the shore for adult beverages.
"I mean, so many people stay inside because they think it's cold," said Latterman. "If you dress warm, it's not that cold and you can enjoy everything that the Adirondacks has to offer."
"We have a sense of pride now to keep it going and the individuals that we meet from all over is what really keeps us coming back every year," said O'Brien.
"To be here in the middle of six million acres with an eight mile lake surrounded by mountains," said Latterman. "It's a wonderful backyard for anyone."
The tournament continues all weekend long. You can find the full Adirondack Ice Bowl Schedule on their website.