Local teams motivated by home ice advantage
By Darren Lum
Published Jan. 23, 2018
There’s nothing more Canadian than hockey being played on a pond under falling snow.
Hundreds of hockey players will get to live out this idyllic experience when the Canadian National Pond Hockey Championships hosts men and women at Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre over two weekends, starting Jan. 26 and ending the first weekend in February.
Preparations for the championships, which will include two teams from Quebec and two teams from the U.S., have been ongoing, with organizer John Teljeur and volunteers staking the rinks and clearing of snow from some 450,000 square feet of space. There was a hope with the rain over the weekend that it would improve the ice. Flooding the ice is expected later this week. He said they are ahead of last year’s schedule.
Volunteers are still needed. The jobs include scorekeepers and runners to deliver messages and scoresheets. (See canadapondhockey.ca/volunteer for more information.)
The event will be live streamed and include a place to make your own hockey card, a bonfire, and live entertainment on Saturday, Jan. 27 from Tragically Hip cover band, Road Apples.
Included among the hundreds of players will be three local teams: the Huskies, the Trailer Park Boys and Minden’s Finest Things.
Half of Highlands resident Josh Shaw’s team, the Huskies, is returning to defend their men’s recreation title. The team included Shaw, Andi Donaldson, Tanner Hamilton, Jason Chambers, Ryan Scheffee and Tyler Crego. This year’s squad will include Kolt Smith and Brandon Logan instead of Scheffee (he’s on another local team) and Crego.
Shaw welcomes the opportunity to defend the title.
“It’s just always nice playing on your home ice having a few of the local fans come out and watch ... and strategy wise it’s mostly sticking to the diamond formation and a lot of puck movement besides trying to skate it yourself,” he said.
Likely to face the Huskies will be the other local team, which has entered the same men’s recreation division during the opening weekend. The Trailer Park Boys, who were finalists last year and won the title three years ago, are back. The roster includes Highlands residents Brad Park, Ryan Wood, Jeremy Miscio, Steve Miscio, Jesse Johnson and Ryan Scheffee. These local residents have known each other for years. The team is the same, except for the addition of Jeremy, who was hurt during the team’s first year of competition, and Scott Neilson will be out of town and unavailable to play.
The year off was due to time constraints and how life gets in the way, but Park is anxious to play this season.
Getting to play in his proverbial backyard is something Jesse Johnson doesn’t undervalue.
“It means that we have the comfort of being home, and having friends and family around us definitely drives and motivates us. As far as experience is concerned, we have played three years and have a championship and a finalist under our belts. We stick to our tactics and play hard,” wrote Johnson.
For the second year, Minden’s Finest Things is returning.
Members are Cheryl Smith, Sonja Marx, Rhonda Cooper, Tammy Smith, and pond hockey tournament rookies Karen London and Stephanie Mackendrick.
“Last year the teams that we played against made the whole experience one that we definitely want to continue doing over and over again, the atmosphere and everything about the event is like no other tournament. The games are full of laughs together with both teams and no one is focused on the scoreboard,” Smith wrote in an email to the paper.
Getting to play in the Highlands isn’t lost on Smith, who welcomes the chance to have loved ones see them play.
“Having the opportunity to play on home ice is the best. Our own families and children get to come out and cheer us on and it’s a part of where we live and play! We all grew up playing on the pond and having this opportunity to come together with some old and new friends is wonderful!” Smith wrote.
Smith appreciated the trophies made by local resident Eric Christensen from last year.
There are six large cups (three made of oak and three made of maple) for each division and 60 smaller ones for each player on a championship team.
Smith is keen to win one.
“Personally, they have these super adorable mini wooden Stanley Cups that the winners get to take home .... we’re in it for the cup,” she wrote.