Wednesday, February 12, 2014

USA Hockey Adult Pond Hockey National Championships Happened This Past Weekend: A Kansas Citians's Review

via @usahockey

Kansas City hockey fans, I'd like to introduce myself. I am Nutbush. I've been an author on this blog for... a year and a half, I think?... and have fended off enormous pressure from Flubber to actually write something. NO MORE. You will all now be subjected to my long-winded tangents (ahem) and generally awful writing. JOKE'S ON YOU, FLUBBER.

Anyway, let's get to the point of this post: Hockey. Specifically, pond hockey. Even more specifically, getting completely destroyed playing pond hockey.

The USA Hockey Adult Pond Hockey National Championships have been held in Eagle River, Wisconsin, for the last nine years. The event has grown every year and was featured by NBC during Hockey Day in America:

I was presented the chance to participate in this year's tournament and jumped at the chance. I had spent the majority of my life wishing I could play hockey up until last year when I joined a D-League team, so of course I wasn't going to miss being able to play the game in its purest form. On top of that, it is difficult to get a team registered - this year's pool was filled up completely in just two days - so if you get the chance, you'd better take it.

One thing that I was told about Northern Wisconsin (I'd never been there) was that it was cold in the winter (duh). But I'd be fine, hockey gear is thick and stuff.

I was also told not to expect to win any games and that getting blown out was a near-certainty. Pond hockey games tend to have scores in the 30s and 40s for at least three reasons:
  1. There are no goalies
  2. The playing surface is small
  3. Holy crap, the other team is good
Number 3 in that list applied to us a lot. We were in a division a bit above our skill level because of how quickly registration filled up. Oh well, low expectations means more fun.

First game result: like, 35-0. I honestly lost count. We scored a few goals in the last two games and your guess on our opponents' scores are as good as mine. Suffice it to say they won quite comfortably.

The ice was great for the first game, but the surfaces quickly started developing huge cracks in them. I would find it hard to believe if the amount of torn knee ligaments among all participants wasn't greater than zero. I ate it a number of times and my already (very) poor hockey skills were even further diminished by the conditions. I'm sure this is something pond hockey veterans are used to, but I usually play on indoor surfaces and I'M A LITTLE GIRL, DARNIT.
click to embiggen
In the end, the losing really didn't matter. Playing on a frozen lake was a freaking blast and everyone should do it at least once in their lifetime. If losing does matter to you, keep in mind that this event is sponsored by Labatt. You get something like six 12-packs of beer just for playing, so there's that. Nothing says "I'm totally ready to skate a bunch in sub-zero temperatures and not vomit" than ingesting lots of free beer.

A lot of Kansas City teams made the trip, so if you are on a team and haven't done this yet, I encourage you to get your players together and (try to) register next year and go. It's a great time and representing KC hockey definitely can't hurt, even if your team gets outscored somewhere-close-to-100 to 7.

Here is some more info on this year's tournament, if you're interested:

Photo Gallery

2014 Labatt Blue/USA Pond Hockey Championship Notebook - 19 Winners Crowned in Eagle River

If you've made it this far, congratulations on reading an entire Nutbush post. Few have done so and lived to tell the tale. You're probably wondering where the last few minutes of your life have gone. Sorry.

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