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Here's why Hockey Day North Dakota won't take place this winter

The committee that last put on the event this past January made the decision early this fall to postpone the event on the Jamestown campus.

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Hockey fans brave sub-zero windchill at Hockey Day in Jamestown, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — There will be no Hockey Day North Dakota this winter as organizers said a new rink location at the University of Jamestown could not be prepared in time.

The committee that last put on the event this past January made the decision early this fall to postpone the event on the Jamestown campus.

“We weren’t able to get that site prepped and leveled and everything ready to go,” said Nick Bruns, a board member for Pure Hockey Skills, a Jamestown-based operation which has organized Hockey Day North Dakota. “There just wasn’t enough time to do it.”

The university hosted last season’s event Jan. 21-22 with games involving bantams, high schools and host Jimmies. That rink was set up on a dirt parking lot to the south of Wilson Arena. Since that location was no longer available this season, another plot of land on campus was selected, but earthwork required for leveling the surface was not finished.

“It's tough because you feel like you're giving up a little momentum and the progress we've made on putting on the event so we had to kind of take a year off,” said Kent Sortland, the president of the Pure Hockey Skills board.

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An ice resurfacer clears the ice ahead of practice for Hockey Day 2022 on Jan. 20, 2022.
Dan Tostenson drives an ice resurfacer to clear the 2022 Hockey Day ice to prepare it for practice on Jan. 20, 2022.
Max O'Neill/ The Jamestown Sun

Sortland said he hopes that Hockey Day North Dakota can return in late 2023, or early 2024, with an effort to keep the 2022 and 2023 years intact.

“It's definitely a very large undertaking,” Bruns said. “It was one of those things where it would have been a hurry-up to try to get it together while trying to prep and get the site ready to go.”

The group would like to eventually host the event in the state’s other large cities, perhaps on a rotating basis. The committee brought up Bismarck as a potential site this winter, but with several logistical issues to sort out, moving Hockey Day North Dakota to any other location this season wasn’t going to work this year, Bruns said.

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Light snow falls as the Jamestown Blue Jays' bench watch the action on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, during Hockey Day North Dakota on the University of Jamestown campus.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

“We weren't ready to take it on the road yet,” he said.

Much like COVID-19 year which shut down the event, the committee, Bruns said, has welcomed an extra year to prepare for the state’s next Hockey Day.

In Minnesota, for example, host communities are announced more than year in advance and planning even longer than that.

“We'll never probably compete anywhere near that,” Sortland said. “It’s a different market, you know, so we're at a smaller scale all the way around. But it's nice to look at some of the things that they've done and try, and not necessarily copy, but just get ideas from what you see them doing and how they operate, because they do a nice job over there.”

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Grand Forks Red River players gather around a fire Saturday afternoon, Jan. 22, at the 2022 Hockey Day in Jamestown.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

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Rob Beer is the digital content manager for Forum Communications. A journalist with Forum Communications since 1991, he is the editor of The Rink Live and assists with Northland Outdoors and other content produced by the company.
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