The 13th annual Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Pond Hockey National Championships take place this weekend on Dollar Lake near Eagle River.
USA Hockey is the parent for many hockey organizations across the nation. If you don't know what pond hockey is, Manager of Adult Hockey programs for USA Hockey, Katie Holmgren tells us...
"...from USA Hockey's standpoint, the biggest adult-specific event we put on throughout the year. We build 24 rinks on Dollar Lake. We have just about 300 teams from all over the country coming to play. Teams of seven people a four-on-four tournament with half-hour games with a lot of festivities going on around the tournament...."
Holmgren says spectators are welcome but just like when you played as a kid on the ice, there's not much protection...
"....you can walk up to the rinks, so beware of flying pucks. Spectators are welcome. There's lots of families and friends out there watching. You can walk up and down between the rinks while things are going on...."
Holmgren says she started playing hockey on a pond, but she says there are teams from California and Texas who come to participate. The first puck drops at 8:15 Friday morning and runs Friday and Saturday during daylight hours and concludes on Sunday. The Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Pond Hockey National Championships began in 2006 with 40 teams on six rinks and has evolved into more than 300 teams and more than 2,300 players across 19 divisions.
With all the players and their families and friends coming to watch, the event has evolved into a major economic boost for the Eagle River area