After a week of unseasonably warm weather, Spring Lake held up great. Colder temperatures came along with a fresh coating of snow to make perfect conditions for the 9th annual AF99 outdoor pond hockey classic at Spring Lake Park in North Mankato, MN.
On Saturday January 28, 2017 we featured 5 Divisions of Adult men and women. The weather was overcast with highs in the upper 20's and a NW wind that was mostly blocked by the bluff. Ice conditions were the best they've ever been. Competition was fierce and friendly and a good time was had by all but one.
On Sunday, the sun came out as the Youth took over the pond and it turned into a great hockey day. We had divisions for Mini-Mite, Mite, Squirt, PeeWee and Bantam aged players. With cold overnight temperatures, we were able to flood and ice conditions remained the best we ever had.
For a great game day experience, we feature 12 NiceRink's on a sheltered lake near the city center of the Mankato/North Mankato area. Our small lake has proven to have less cracks and freezes fast.
Many made it a hockey weekend and were able to watch the Minnesota State Mavericks as they took on Lake Superior State in WCHA action at the Verizon Wireless Center. Friday night had the Mavericks winning 4-2 and Saturday was an exciting come from behind double overtime winner for the Mavs!
Proceeds from the event support Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia and help keep hockey affordable in our area.
Thank you to all the volunteers and participants for creating 2 great days of outdoor hockey and for supporting a wonderful cause!
The 2018 Anthony Ford Pond Hockey Classic will be our 10th annual event and we are excited to begin planning for another great year. Dates for next year's event will be posted in the Spring.
Just around the bend of the Minnesota River Valley, Spring Lake Park in beautiful lower North Mankato, plays host to the Anthony Ford Pond Hockey Classic. The downtown location has proven to be perfect for pond hockey. The park is nestled along the bluff which shelters the lake from wind, making the coldest winter day seem more like a great day for a skate in the park.
The park features a small lake, sledding hill, outdoor rinks, ample parking, hospitality area, warming shelters, restrooms & fishing pier for viewing.
Spring Lake Park also has close proximity to hotels, bars & restaurants. The Verizon Wireless Center, which is just across the river, is the home of Maverick hockey where you can catch Minnesota State in WCHA action.
As part of our mission to help keep hockey affordable in our area, the Anthony Ford Fund pledged $50,000 towards the Outdoor Rink Improvement Plan at Spring Lake Park In North Mankato. The Mankato Area Foundation has since pledged another $50,000 to help us reach our goal for the project.
Since moving the Pond Hockey Classic from Lake Washington to Spring Lake Park in 2015, AF99 and the City of North Mankato have been partnering to make improvements to the park. In the summer of 2017, we will complete a project that will bring 2 new outdoor rinks with concrete surface for easier maintenance and additional opportunities for year-round use. Warming House improvements with concessions are also part of the plan.
With the shortage of indoor ice and the lack of warming houses in our area, we feel this project is important to help create affordable opportunities to skate and play hockey. This will be a high quality outdoor destination that will help grow the hockey culture in our area.
Thank You to the City of North Mankato, the Mankato Area Foundation, The Glen A. Taylor Foundation, and everyone who has supported the Anthony Ford Fund through the years. We hope to see you at the rink!
The Anthony Ford Fund Committee members would like to put out a special thank you to the City of North Mankato and their staff and the Business on Belgrade Group for their assistance and cooperation in making our move to Spring Lake Park seamless. We are excited about the new venue and the possibilities it brings for bigger and better events to come.
The Anthony Ford Cup
In the spirit of Anthony’s dream of one day becoming the next “Great One” the Anthony Ford Fund was created in 2007 by friends and family of Anthony Ford and has since donated more than $100,000 to Pediatric Cancer Research and United Way's Connecting Kids. AF99 is committed to providing affordable opportunities to grow the hockey culture in our area.
In January 2009, the pond hockey tradition began on Lake Washington about 10 miles outside Mankato, MN. The journey started by building rinks of snow and has since evolved into 12 new rinks with NiceRink boards. In 2016, our event moved to Spring Lake Park in beautiful lower North Mankato which has proven to be a wonderful setting for pond hockey. The new pond is near the city center of the Mankato/North Mankato area.