North American Pond Hockey tourney returns to Excelsior
Organizers of the North American Pond Hockey Championships are hoping for a warmup this weekend on Excelsior Bay.
Saturday, Jan. 19, volunteers were outside in a 25-degree-below-zero windchill, setting up 12 rinks. Those rinks will be filled with games Friday, Jan. 25, thorugh Sunday, Jan. 27. Championship games will be played in the afternoon on the 27th for men’s and women’s divisions.
“We already have more than 40 adult teams signed up,” said J Lindsay, a former St. Paul Vulcan and University of Denver hockey player from Edina.
Lindsay is one of the owners of the North American Pond Hockey Championships along with Steve Youngstedt and Justin Pagel.
“We are striving to make 2013 the best year in tournament history,” said Lindsay. “All of the Mite hockey teams from Minnetonka will be playing in the tournament on Saturday. We also have a 35-and-Over men’s division and a women’s division.”
Pond hockey is different from standard hockey in several respects. First of all, there are no goalies. Instead of shooting at regulation goals, players try to put the puck through small slots in the boards at each end of the rink. There is no checking allowed, so it is basically a game of skill and skating.
This year’s tournament honors the late Dave Bigham, who passed away last year at the age of 42.
“Dave was a great guy, who loved sports,” said Lindsay. “We played together in this tournament.”
Bigham’s family, which includes wife Susan, son Wynn and daughter Emma, has great memories of him. Tournament organizers will make a donation to the family. Other funds raised this weekend will benefit youth hockey ministires.
“We believe the tournament will be a positive experience for everyone that participates,” said Lindsay. “Excelsior Bay is a great venue, and we have some awesome sponsors.
“This is the fifth year of the tournament,” Lindsay continued. “Dave [Bigham] had a vision to own and run the tournament someday. What better way to honor him than for his friends to buy the tournament.
“Steve Youngstedt from Youngstedt’s Goodyear Store has led the charge. He asked Justin and me if we wanted to join him to buy the tournament.”
What kind of weather would the organizers prefer this weekend?
“Temperatures in the teens would be great,” said Lindsay. “Those temperatures would give us the best ice conditions.”