DULUTH, MN -- All organized hockey activities are currently shut down due to state regulations in Minnesota, so athletes have been forced to improvise.
Outdoor ice facilities throughout Duluth have been busy as a result. At the Piedmont Community Center, outdoor ice rinks are usually resurfaced 4-5 times a week.
Due to increased demand, they've been flooding their three ice sheets seven days a week to start the season. They have around 50 different families who take shifts of 3-6 hours to keep the rinks skate-able for the kids.
"Usually a crew comes out around 8 o'clock, they'll wrap up around midnight, sometimes they'll stay later, sometimes shorter. But that's every night, yeah 10 guys, four, five, six hours a night making sure they've got enough ice," said facilities director Keith Severson.
"With the warm weather right now, skaters are pretty tough on the ice, so we're doing everything we can to rebuild the ice from some of these warm days of playing hockey on them."
Since the state isn't allowing organized sports of more than two households, they say kids simply show up to the facility and skate around with whoever is there.
"This year, the moment we've had ice on here, they've been on here every single day. They just text each-other and say hey do you want to go down and skate, and rink rat, and they come down here to this community ice and skate around all day," said Severson.
Organized youth sports practice is set to begin on January 4, 2021, pending another state shutout by Governor Tim Walz.