TRAVERSE CITY — It’s the return of pond hockey to northern Michigan.
Except it’s not in northern Michigan. Or on an actual pond.
Traverse City Central and Traverse City West will tangle Wednesday on a frozen-over Comerica Park baseball field as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival.
Wednesday’s predicted high is 26 degrees, partly cloudy and a 10-percent change of snow.
“We’re working to not get caught up in it all, which is definitely going to be a challenge,” Central defenseman Derek Schrank said. “It’s a huge stadium. It’s not a hockey arena; it’s a baseball field. We’re going to try to keep everything calm and collected so we don’t get too awestruck by it.”
The West-Central game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., followed by Cadillac against Big Rapids at 7 p.m.
Players from both squads frequently play pond hockey pick-up games in the winter months, so the outdoor aspect isn’t a big deal.
“We have a lot of friends that have rinks in their back yard that we platy on quite often,” Schrank said. “Just the fact that it’s a game, not just a pick-up game (is big).”
At least four TC Central (3-3-1) players have pond rinks in their yards — Alex Oliver, Darrell Carlisle, Andrew Froese and Drew Girard-Pampu — and West (2-4) does as well.
“It’s not new, but it’s obviously going to be very different down at Comerica Park,” Trojans defender Joe Videcki said.
One difference will be a shortened warm-up time prior to the contest. The teams expect to take the ice at 3 p.m. for pre-game skates.
“The warm-up seems like it’ll be pretty normal,” West coach Jeremy Rintala said. “We’re going on (the ice) a half hour early. It’ll be a little shorter warm-up than usual. It looks like it’s only an eight- or 10-minute warm-up, and that’s the only chance the boys will have to get used to the ice and to make adjustments to anything like the sun’s glare (off the ice).”