Get Out There
From Snowshoeing, Yurting, Fishing on the Big Wood to The New Ski Academy, Idaho Pond Hockey and more.
(page 7 of 8)
OLD SCHOOL HOCKEY
Ketchum’s Annual Idaho Pond Hockey Classic
Photography Mark Oliver
2010 A-Division Champions, the McGoo’s Mulies, after being awarded the Golden Shovel.
It’s hockey the way it was meant to be played: outdoors, with a couple of sticks, a few friends, beers, brats and a bonfire.
For all those New England or Midwest transplants to the Gem State, the Idaho Pond Hockey Classic (IPHC) is a trip down memory lane.
“My first memory on the ice was playing pond hockey with my dad when I was three,” says local resident and 2010 Idaho Pond Hockey Champion team member Steve Morcone. “I grew up outside Milford, Massachusetts, and we had neighborhood teams that would travel around playing games on each team’s ‘home’ pond. We would be out there all day, playing hockey until dark and some of those kids never even saw a commercial ice sheet, it was all on ponds.”
And while there are no natural ponds to skate on here in the Wood River Valley, there are plenty of backyard rinks that spring up with the aid of some boards or packed snow, a hose, a fair amount of ingenuity and a lot of determination.
Cody Proctor, Taylor Rothgeb, Chad Levitan, Ivars “Muzzy” Muzis and Sean Rynes defining crowd involvement.
“A lot of kids and NHL players started on backyard rinks or ponds,” says Ketchum Parks Department director John Kearney, who adds that the best part of the tournament is watching all the age groups skate together.
“It is the most fun, and most sore, I have been playing hockey. Ever!” says 2010 IPHC champion team member and Hailey local, Pete Whitehead, who grew up playing on the ponds and lakes of New Hampshire.
Played at Christina Potters Ice Rink in Atkinson Park, the IPHC has two divisions, an advanced A-Division and an intermediate B-Division open to all players, which means that men play alongside women and 16-year-olds play on teams with 50-year-olds.
“Everyone is there to have fun!” says Wood River Valley native Piers Lamb, who co-founded the tournament with Kearney and Dave Keir (Director of Recreation at Blaine County Recreation District). The tournament has pretty much sold out every year since its inception in 2008 and features 30 teams of six players who travel from all over—including Boise, McCall, Missoula, Salt Lake City, and even from as far away as California. Around 300 fans come out to watch the excitement as well and to enjoy the free beer and brats (offered on a donation basis).
The idea for the Idaho Pond Hockey Classic started essentially as pond hockey itself does: with a couple of guys playing pick up games in Hailey who wanted to develop it into something more. “We were skating around Roberta McKercher Park every night for fun, playing hockey and having a bonfire at the end of the night,” says Lamb. “More guys kept showing up and it was so much fun, it just evolved into the idea for a pond hockey tournament.”
The IPHC is run as a 4-on-4 double-elimination tournament played with no goalies. Each team is guaranteed at least two games, but you play more games if you win. All the proceeds benefit youth programs in the Valley and, in a nod to the National Pond Hockey Championship held every year in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the grand prize is, what else—a golden shovel. -Laurie Sammis
Players watch Whitehead Landscaping’s Ryan “Rico” Enrico on a breakout pass