Sunday, January 23, 2011

The 2011 U. S. Pond Hockey Championships

Today is the third and final day of the 2011 U. S. Pond Hockey Championships held on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

USPHC_aerial_shot w/logo

The U. S. Pond Hockey Championships began five years ago with a tournament on Lake Calhoun. The romantic nature of the back to basics tournament clearly struck a chord and gathered all kinds of the right attention, such as a write up in none other than Sports Illustrated.

The next season the tournament relocated across town to it's new home at Lake Nokomis where it has remained ever since.

Friday began with 150 teams divided into 30 groups of five teams each hitting the ice at 8:30 AM for the first of two days of pool play spread out over 25 rinks on the frozen lake, which lasted until 4:30 PM. Games continued in pool play Saturday, again from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. At the conclusion of Saturday's schedule, the 30 group winners with the best record from the four games against the other teams in their group, plus two additional wild card teams, were seeded into a 32 team bracket of single elimination games to be played on Sunday.

While the weather last year was warm and sloppy, with Sunday being an unfortunate complete rain out, this year has seen temperatures in the single digits with windchills of -10º, making for near ideal playing conditions. Today calls for a cold start to the morning with temps of -8º and windchills at -15º. By the time of the championship game in the Open Division it should be the warmest it's been all weekend at 11º and snow showers to create the "snow globe" effect, so bundle up, bring some handwarmers (we just got some in the dollar bin at Target!) and come on out and experience it for yourself.

Play begins today at 8:30 with the Round of 32. The winners of those first 16 games advance to the next round just two hours later at 10:30 AM. The eight surviving teams meet in the quarterfinals at 1:30 in the afternoon. The next round of semifinal games comes up fast, just an hour later at 2:30. The two survivors will square off for the championship trophy, The Golden Shovel, another short hour later for their fifth game of the day in the space of just seven hours!

With that many teams involved, there are always some great names chosen, with some of our favorites this year being:
  • Angry Cheekins
  • Beached Whalers
  • Blame Canada
  • Cold Hands
  • Do it for Dunlop
  • Don't Towes Me Bro
  • Fighting Mondales
  • Frozen Floaters
  • Frozen Pond Scum
  • Hattrick Swayze
  • Healthy Scratch
  • Here for Beer
  • Ice Holes
  • Jagr Bombs
  • Legs Feed the Wolf
  • Minnesota Fighting Milfoil
  • Money Shot
  • Mr. Irrelevant
  • No Stars
  • Pinching D
  • Puckin' Ourselves
  • Pulled Hammies
  • Rusty Blades
  • Tail Gators
  • Team Buffett
  • The Swelling
  • Toothless Wonders
  • Urine Trouble
  • Yellow Snow
  • Youngblood
Bonus points for those of you who got all the pop culture references contained above!

The sentimental favorite must be "0 and 16", a team who in four years had never won a game at the U. S. Pond Hockey Championships, which they finally managed to do this year with a 1-0 win by a forfeit, leaving them with a lifetime record of 1 and 19 but still yet to score a victory while actually on the ice. Keep tryin' men!

Other than the Open Division, other groups are the 40 and over, 50 and over, Women's and Rink Rat divisions, which will all be competing throughout the day today, as well as the Boot Hockey competition.

The first championship of the day will be settled at 11:30 AM for the 50 and over group, followed by the Boot Hockey final at 12:30, the 40+ final at 1:30 and the Rink Rat and Women's finals coming at 2:30 with the Open Division championship game for the Golden Shovel closing out the competition at 3:30.

For today's action, your intrepid reporter trekked out onto the frozen lake with camera in hand to document some of the noteworthy jerseys which caught our eye. While some teams can barely round up six matching jerseys, others with an eye for a good looking sweater and either a sense of history or sense of fun, can produce some good looking sweaters, some of which we have gathered here for you today.

Blazing Bandits
The Blazing Bandits from Chicago sporting Chicago Black Hawks throwbacks

The Danglers
The Danglers from St. Louis with the Blues retro sweaters

OG Red Army
OG Red Army with their classic CCCP sweaters, complete with captain's "K"

OG Red Army
The OG Red Army even had their names on the back in Cyrillic

The Great White Buffalo
The Great White Buffalo with not only plaid jackets, but matching pants as well

If you are coming out to take photos, be aware that cold weather is horrible for batteries and we recommend bringing plenty of spares kept close to your body to keep them warm!

To get an understanding of the romance of pond hockey, we present the full length documentary film Pond Hockey, filmed on location at the first U. S. Pond Hockey Championships in 2006, which features interviews with many former NHLer's, including none other than Wayne Gretzky.


To purchase your copy of Pond Hockey, please visit pondhockeymovie.com.

2 comments:

  1. Hattrick Swayze may be the best team name I've ever heard.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love all the different jerseys at Pond Hockey and the cast of characters that go with them.

    ReplyDelete

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