From left to right: Peter, Joe, Jeff, Mike, Jim and Ryan (Photo courtesy Chapman)
Last month the Mammoth Lakers, a local ice hockey team made up of Jeff Posey (team captain and primary organizer), Joe Hannigan, Jim Lynch, Mike Rousseau, Ryan Widen and Peter Chapman headed to Minneapolis, Minn. for the seventh annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis.
Held Jan. 20-22, there were 26 rinks on the lake with 160 teams participating in the Open Division.
In addition to the Open Division, which the Mammoth Lakers competed in, there were five other divisions: 40+, 50+, Rink Rat, Women’s and Boot Hockey.
According to http://www.uspondhockey.com/
“The Open Division is considered the most competitive division of the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, with 160 teams competing to have their team name inscribed on a piece of pond hockey history: the Golden Shovel. This division is for men and women age 18 and older. Some open division teams carry former NHL legends, Division 1 hockey players or high school greats. Teams hold up to 6 players with 4 players on the ice at a time. Each team is guaranteed four games: two on Friday and two on Saturday. 32 teams will advance to the Golden Shovel round on Sunday to compete in up to 5 grueling games, with only one team emerging triumphant.”
The Mammoth Lakers played two games on Friday and two on Saturday but failed to succeed in winning any of them.
The style of hockey at the Championships is very different from traditional hockey as there are four skaters instead of five and no goalie, according to team member Peter Chapman. “Also, there are no off-sides so the strategy is completely different. It took us a little bit to figure out what was going on.
“Hockey is a competitive sport, but the general atmosphere for this event is about having fun. Pretty much everyone at the event was smiling, even after losing. Really in the end you’re playing for your name to be on a shovel, which signifies the heart of pond hockey because you often have to shovel the pond rink to keep it clear of snow.”
Last year Posey found out about the event and registered the team, but two players became injured, according to Chapman. “We were able to move our registration to this year. This is the only event our team of six has competed in.”
One of the highlights of the trip—when Ryan Widen’s, who grew up in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis & Saint Paul), parents came down and fed the team on Saturday with hot chili, cookies and beer.