Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

US Pond Hockey Tournament

Posted on 20 February 2017 by calvin

Photos by MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Pond Hockey 01Photo right: A record 275 teams entered the 12th annual LaBott Blue US Pond Hockey Tournament this year. The event was held on Lake Nokomis Jan. 26-29. Considered the greatest pond hockey tournament in the country, the event has been covered variously by the Today Show, Good Morning America, the NY Times, the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal, and NPR. In other words, it’s become something of a phenomenon.

Pond Hockey 07Photo left: Todd Studer played the national anthem to signal the start of playtime on tournament Friday at 8:30am sharp. The morning temperature hovered around 17 degrees. Studer finished playing, put his trumpet away, and went off to ref the first game. A former Edison High School hockey player, he proudly wore his jersey to the tournament.

 

 

 

 

Pond Hockey 23Photo right: The goal of the event is to break even, after making donations to DinoMights (a Minneapolis hockey youth development program), the Metropolis Foundation, and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

Photo below: Most pond hockey enthusiasts grew up in cold places, playing hockey on their frozen backyard ponds or those of their neighbors. No paying for rink time, no early morning practices, no fancy equipment. To hear the tournament organizers describe it: pond hockey is just about a pair of skates, a puck, a stick, and for some extra protection, maybe a wad of newspaper duck-taped across shins.

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Pond Hockey 33Photo right: Natalee Wiebe of Claremont, CA, travels around the country sometimes playing on women’s teams and sometimes playing on men’s teams—as she did on Friday. She said, ”I just slide in wherever I can to get ice-time.”

 

 

 

Pond Hockey 53Photo left: Left: Pond hockey is played on a short sheet of ice with no goalie. To score a goal, a player smacks the puck into one of two holes in a wooden goal frame that measures 24” x 72”. Playtime is two 15 minute periods. The action is fast.

 

Pond Hockey 73Photo right: Brian Herbert (third from left) of Boston, MA, said, “Hands down, this is our favorite weekend of the year. It top birthdays, Christmas, every major and minor holiday. I’ve been skating with these guys since I was three years old. This is a place where we can all be kids again.”

 

 

Pond Hockey 86Photo right: In the coldest month of the year, more than 20,000 hardy souls came out to play, watch, cheer, laugh, and shiver together in support of pond hockey.

 

 

 

 

Pond Hockey 298Photo left: Right: Twenty-five rinks were laid out for competition, as well as two rinks for family skating. Many of the teams traveled from across the country to compete on frozen Lake Nokomis. The teams were divided into five different classes, each of which crowned a champion.

 

 

Photo below: There aren’t any Zambonis to clear the ice at the US Pond Hockey Tournament—just shovels.
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