Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Under a full moon on a frigid Friday night, Devon Morley’s crew of a half dozen ice makers were straightening boards, putting out nets and turning a huge patch of Lake Muskoka into 22 pristine sheets of pond hockey ice as the temperature plummeted toward minus-22.

“Perfect conditions” for the 84 teams who in 12 hours would be waking up to ideal, sunny and cold outdoor hockey weather at the Muskoka Wharf for the annual tournament.

One of the busy workers said there’s 15 inches of ice close to the shore and just a few less farther out.

“Enough,” he said to support the 1,000 people he expects to wander out during the day.

As Morley’s crew worked into the dark lit by tractor headlights, it was nearing the end of one long day that began with clearing three inches of snowfall off the football stadium-sized site.

And while a few inches of light, white fluffy stuff doesn’t sound like much, try clearing it off on the rinks and then flooding it all.

Inside Boston Pizza, organizer Rob Carleton was sitting down to dinner in front of the giant TV watching the Leafs, and surrounded by a full sports bar of eager shinny players getting primed for a morning skate.

He was primed for the 14th annual shindig that begins Saturday morning at 9 a.m. with opening ceremonies and runs all day, before the championship games Sunday.

He said “the weather looks great,” and he can’t wait to drop the first puck.

Action is free all day to the public.

But dress warm, the daytime high will be -12 and will dip back down to -23 tomorrow night.

Organizer Rob Carleton gives the thumbs up to the ice makers and players ahead of tomorrow’s 14th annual pond hockey championship at the Muskoka Wharf.
Under a moonlit sky the ice looks smooth as glass thanks to ice crew’s hard work.