Shivering, teeth-chattering, Frozen Ole Pond Hockey Championships held on single digit dayPuddle pooling rains and higher than average temperatures on Friday kept the ice pond from solidifying on the kick-off day for the first Frozen Ole Pond Hockey Championships in Alexandria. A quick dip on the thermometer and sunny skies on Saturday, January 12 provided a proper day to premier the event.
By: Crystal Dey, Alexandria Echo Press
Puddle pooling rains and higher than average temperatures on Friday kept the ice pond from solidifying on the kick-off day for the first Frozen Ole Pond Hockey Championships in Alexandria.
A quick dip on the thermometer and sunny skies on Saturday, January 12 provided a proper day to premier the event. Hockey players and spectators pulled into the Viking Plaza Mall parking lot and slid over to the man-made frozen pond in front of D. Michael B’s.
Bundled boot-clad brutes slapped the puck around on the pond while others sought refuge in the heated food tent. Less than stellar ice conditions caused the ice hockey tournament to morph into a boot-hockey tourney.
“It was tough. If we would have had five more hours, we would have had perfect ice for skating,” said Durk Stark, manager of D. Michael B’s and organizer of the event.
A crew started constructing the parking lot pond on top of a plastic sheet Friday night; water didn’t start freezing until around 4 a.m. Saturday morning.
Ten teams fought their way through the rounds, climaxing with a championship game Saturday night. Team Alex Brick and Stone, captained by Neil Jensen, took away the wooden championship trophy. The Frozen Ole Pond Hockey Championship’s logo, a fierce, bearded, Viking hockey player, was burned into the trophy’s center.
“We lost one team who came up here to skate. They left to play on the lake,” Stark said.
Most teams were local, but a few came from the Minneapolis and Fargo areas. One-hundred team applications were given out prior to the event.
Stark said that packed hockey tournament schedules could have influenced people’s ability to participate. He would like to work with the hockey association next year to plan for a break in the tournament schedule.
“Hockey has changed from getting out to Noonans Park after school to this highly competitive thing where people have to be on the road 12 months out of the year,” Stark said.
Stark built a 40-by-60-foot rink in his backyard last year for his sons. A light bulb sparked – and it wasn't one of those shining down on the rink.
“In January it’s kind of cabin fever; everyone is done with Christmas stuff,” Stark said. “How do we get them outside again? How do we get them out to the mall?”
The Frozen Ole Pond Hockey Championship was originally planned to be a weekend-long festival that would not only celebrate hockey, but bring people into the area for hotel and business traffic.
“A lot of people play hockey in Alex,” Stark said. “Why not make it work?”
Although the warm weather dampened the building of the rink this year and the cold weather may have kept some folks indoors, Stark said there was a lot of positive reception from the community and pressure to do it again next year.
Jake's Bikes was on-site with winter terrain friendly Salsa fat-tire bikes for time trials while the championship hockey games were played. Stark said a lot of people wanted to try out the Salsa bikes.
“It rides so smooth, it’s amazing. They’re really interesting bikes to ride,” he said.
Mark Trebelhorn won the trials with a time of 25.25 seconds. Austin Hohler placed second, coming in at 37 seconds.
Stark said the sponsors and beverage sampling in the tent added to the spirit of the event. Throughout Saturday, door prizes were given away, leading up to the awards ceremony.
A United Way Puck Shoot-Out gave contestants the chance to win a 42-inch TV. Stu Woods was the lucky winner.
When the day’s events wrapped up, the music booth featured The Lazy Boyz. Dirty Reggae Punx performed at the warm-up party on Friday.
“Given the weather, I don’t know that I would have changed anything at all,” Stark said. “The only thing would be to move it inside, but that’s not what hockey is about at all.”