With  temperatures above average and an unfrozen Lake Erie, hope springs eternal that the fifth annual Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament will take place as planned.

The Makers of Labatt Blue and Blue Light Beer, which is headquartered in Buffalo, has presented the tournament since it began in 2008. The tourney that began with just 16 teams has grown to 144 teams, bringing in more than 1,000 hockey players — both men and women — to the Erie Basin Marina. The tournament is set for Feb. 10 to 12 and will include night games under special lighting on Feb. 10 and Feb.11, if only the the lake freezes over.

Another of the tournament’s major sponsors, for the second year in a row, has agreed to giveaway a car if participants in a special contest can shoot a puck into a pond hockey-style net. The Western New York Ford Dealers are sponsoring a Ford Focus shootout where eligible contestants will try to shoot the puck into the six-inch wide pond hockey net from 100 feet away. Last year, nobody won the Ford Explorer.

The economic impact from the Labatt tournament is expected to exceed $1 million According to Business First but there is a catch,  the ice in Erie Basin Marina must be at least 12 inches thick. Right now the water is 40 degrees and has no ice.

Labatt is thinking about other options for the tournament, but the focus remains on presenting the event at Erie Basin Marina.