Great Lakes Pond Hockey Classic opened Friday night under new managementThe 2013 Great Lakes Pond Hockey Classic will be played on the ice at Barker’s Island, with games running Friday through Sunday. The annual tournament is typically held at Barker’s Island but was played at the outdoor rinks behind the Superior Ice Arena last year due to concerns over ice conditions and a lack of snow.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
For the past eight years, Mike McCoshen has been at the head of the annual Great Lakes Pond Hockey Classic.
This year McCoshen stepped into a supporting role and handed off tournament direction duties to Jason Rauner.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Rauner said. “Mike is exceptionally good at what he does; he has a talent for organization. Stepping into his shoes has been a hard thing to do.”
The 2013 Great Lakes Pond Hockey Classic will be played on the ice at Barker’s Island, with games running Friday through Sunday. The annual tournament is typically held at Barker’s Island but was played at the outdoor rinks behind the Superior Ice Arena last year due to concerns over ice conditions and a lack of snow.
There are no concerns about the ice this season. When tournament organizers measure the ice thickness two weeks ago it was at 13-14 inches.
“We’ve probably doubled that in the last five days,” McCoshen joked.
The only issue for organizers now is a lack of snow.
As of Wednesday night, six of the 10 rinks were ready for use. Rauner said organizers finished five of the rinks about two weeks ago but held off on the remaining five.
When strong winds buffeted Superior early this week, most of the snow to be used for rink boundaries was blown off the ice.
“Worst case scenario, we’ll have seven (rinks),” Rauner said. “Best case scenario, we’ll have more snow and we’ll have a lot of fun.”
Rauner said if Superior receives the 2-4 inches of snow predicted before today’s games, all 10 rinks should be available.
Numbers remain steady for this year’s tournament, with 24 teams registered to play — the same number as in 2012. The largest turnout for the event was 2009, when organizers had 47 teams registered for three divisions.
This year’s tournament sees the return of the senior division. The division was part of the annual games from 2007 through 2010, but it has been absent for the past two years.
Four teams signed up to compete in the division this year. Each team will play three games during the weekend.
“The seniors said, ‘Five games is too much; we’re too old for that.’ So it’s really worked out well,” McCoshen said.
One women’s team will also take part in the tournament this year. The women participated in the 2012 games as well and will be going head-to-head against the men in the open division.
Rauner said he hopes to draw more women for next year’s tournament and to re-establish a women’s division. The tournament organizers intend to step up marketing for the 2014 games, focusing on the Twin Cities and Canada.
Looking through historical data, Rauner said, “once you get a team you have a team for a while. Teams seem to like our event and they keep coming back.”
One of the favorites returning to the pond hockey tournament this year is Bud Light/Dugout Lounge.
Last year the team became the first in the eight-year history of the Great Lakes Pond Hockey Classic to win the open division title in back-to-back years.
Dodgie’s/Need a Fifth is the only other team to claim multiple titles in the open division.
Too Old & Cold won a pair of titles in the senior division.
Eric Dahlberg, Kyle Nosan, Kevin Kuklinski and Dustin LaValley have played for Bud Light/Dugout Lounge in both championship years. Rheese Carlson joined the squad last season, and Eric Bausano helped the team earn its victory in 2011.
Carlson, Dahlberg, Nosan, Kuklinski and LaValley make up the team this year. Carlson, Nosan and LaValley all played hockey for the University of Wisconsin-Superior; Dahlberg played for the University of Connecticut; and Kuklinski played for the College of St. Scholastica.
Schedule of Events
4 p.m. Great Lakes Classic Pond Hockey Championship officially opens.
Team registrations begins
5:45 p.m. Opening ceremonies; parade of teams
6 p.m. First round games begin under the lights
8-9 p.m. Second round games
6-10 p.m. Bonfire party
9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Third, fourth and fifth round games
11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mini-mite games
Bonfire party all day
10:30 a.m. Championship round begins
10 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Mini-mite games
1:30 p.m. Open division championship game
2005 — Need a Fifth (Tim Nelson, Chad Matushak, Jay Matushak, Kelly Stephens)
2006 — Gopher Rejects (Justin Johnson, Chris Green, Brian Delwiche, Matt Hupila)
2007 — Armadillos (Jeremy Enders, Jamie Dowson, Ryan Johnson, Ryan Sustawenko)
2008 — Lucky’s/Shenannigan’s (Ryan O’Neill, Dan Krenn, Dave Coleman, Andy Klapperick)
2009 — Heavy Metal Hockey (Steve Rodberg, Ryan Vieau, Rheese Carlson, Ben Johnson, Tony Scherber)
2010 — Dodgie’s/Need a Fifth (Chad Matushak, Tim Nelson, Clayton Weiby, Kelly Stephens, Chris Sislo)
2011 — Bud Light/Dugout Lounge (Kyle Nosan, Kevin Kuklinski, Eric Bausano, Dustin LaValley, Eric Dahlberg)
2012 — Bud Light/Dugout Lounge (Rheese Carlson, Eric Dahlberg, Kyle Nosan, Kevin Kuklinski, Dustin LaValley)
2007 — MHL Fab Four (Rick Eisenmann, Ken Mertz, Gary Kucharyski, Steve Sorenson, Mike Susens)
2008 — Too Old & Cold (Terry Schold, Travis Schold, Greg Kaake, Pete Hanson)
2009 — Rusty Five (Gary Gilbertson, Joel Heikes, Dane Youngblom, Russ Williams, Mike Hinaus)
2010 — Too Old & Cold, (Terry Schold, Travis Schold, Gary Kucharyski, Pete Hanson)
2009 — Don Leigh’s Ladies (Jill Thompson, Terri Fair, Stephanie Keup, Erica VanDamme, DeeDee Kolanczyk)