The Mammoth Lakes Lakers, our local pond hockey team, are headed to Minneapolis to compete for the Golden Shovel in the sixth annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championship.
You might not have heard about the Mammoth Lakes Lakers, but they’ve been around as long as … well … as long as Mammoth locals have been skating and playing hockey.
This year, the Mammoth Lakes Lakers are Jeff Posey, Peter Chapman, Mike Rousseau, Ryan Widen, Jim Lynch and Joe Hannigan.
Their team name is obviously a play off of the Los Angeles Lakers, but what is not commonly known is that the Lakers used to be known as the Minneapolis Lakers until the franchise moved to California in 1959.
With the lower than average snowfall this fall and early winter, the Mammoth Lakers have been playing more hockey than ever, skating around on more than 20 backcountry lakes throughout the eastern Sierra Nevada.
At least this group is benefiting from the lack of snow and cold temperatures.
Tenaya, Gull, Silver and May Lake are common haunts this year for pick-up games and the Mammoth Lakers are ready to take their skills on the road and against the best that championship pond hockey has to offer.
Winning the three-day tournament (scheduled for Jan. 20 to 22 on Lake Nokomis south of Minneapolis, Minn.) won’t be easy. The pick-up style play with six-member teams and four on the ice at a time has a reputation for bringing out great players.
Former NHL college D1 players and former high school aces have made up winner teams in the past.
The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships began in 2006 by Fred Haberman when he decided he needed a better excuse to skip work to play pond hockey. The tournament has grown and has had players from all over the world compete for the chance to have their names engraved on the Golden Shovel.
The tournament isn’t about winning as much as it is about getting together and playing hockey.
The champions do not win prizes but instead go down in history with their names etched into the Golden Shovel, a symbol of lifelong love and passion for the purity of this outdoor game.
No cash necessary for these pond hockey fanatics.
The Mammoth Lakers have an advantage over the mid westerners: their high altitude training.
When it comes to getting through five grueling games in a single day, our thinner air should be what it takes to put the Lakers into the first position and have their names engraved on the coveted Golden Shovel.
If you are interested in playing hockey, pick up games are played at the Mammoth Ice Rink Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sunday mornings from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
For more information regarding pond hockey, visit www.uspondhockey.com .