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Duluth Heights Outdoor Hockey

Updated: 12/18/2013 11:22 PM
Created: 12/16/2013 7:59 PM WDIO.com
By: Laura Kennedy
lkennedy@wdio.com

The temperature was below zero and the windchill cut straight through. But a group of little hockey players skated on.

The Duluth Heights Outdoor Winter Classic is a popular event, even when Mother Nature brings bitter wind and snow.

"It's definitely winter, and it's definitely a classic with all the different types of weather we've been dealing with," said Ken Zwak, tournament director.

Zwak says parents and players have seen it all over the years.

"It seems every year throws a different curveball. You've gotta hit the curve, right?" Zwak said. "Every year we make it happen regardless of the weather."

Putting on an outdoor tournament is no easy feat, especially when conditions change by the hour.

"Yesterday it was snowing all day long, today we're dealing with the cold," said Scott Berg, hockey parents. "But they love it. It's outdoor hockey."

Berg is one of many hockey parents who volunteer time to give their kids a place to skate.

"It's a lot of hard work," Berg said. "You shovel, you sweep, you flood. It's just everybody getting together and working together as one."

When the air is this chilly, the main priority is keeping players safe and warm.

"The minute they get cold, if the coaches want we'll send them inside," Berg said. "We've got heaters in the players boxes to try to keep them warm in between shifts and in between periods."

And the tradition of outdoor hockey seems to rise above the frigid temperatures.

"They may think we're crazy, but this is the stuff you remember when you get older," Zwak said. "I know I tell my son and my daughter, when I was your age we did the exact same thing thirty years ago. Kids are kids. They have nothing but ear to ear grins on their face. They love it."

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