Up North: Northwoods Pond Hockey Championship

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The feeling of playing hockey with no roof over your head, the cold air whipping across your face on a frozen pond, now that feeling is pure Minnesota.

This past weekend Northlanders got to experience just that on McKinney Lake in Grand Rapids. As the lake was transformed from a plain frozen sheet of ice, into eight hockey rinks for the 4th annual Northwoods Pond Hockey Championship.

“The beauty about this year is that the ice is so much better. The temperatures have been so mild that the ice is not leaving the big cracks that it normally does every year. A lot of times these rinks have huge cracks that you have to worry about your skates getting caught, but this year is beautiful and the ice is the best I’ve seen in four years,” said Grand Rapids native Tj Otto.

The tournament boasted a total of 48 teams with three different divisions, gold, silver, and newly added last pick. A division for those who have never played competitive before but still want in on the fun.

“I like when people come out and watch. Last year there was barley any people out here but it’s fun when family can come out [since it’s not as cold] I am just trying to get better and better and have some fun out here with my friends,” said New beginnings team member Rebecca Bocinsky.

The event was also for a good cause that transcended past hockey as proceeds from the tournament went towards digging water wells in Africa through the World Serve Organization.

“These waters are transforming the communities. One of these guys that I know was driving through there and you can feel there is a difference in the atmosphere, there is hope. It changes their situation. We started it as a fundraiser to raise money for clean water and quickly realized it’s a unique opportunity for the community,” concluded tournament coordinator Jon Scally.