Andrew Sherburne and his buddies were out playing pond hockey a few years ago when one of the guys hit his head on the ice.
A call was placed to 911, and Glenn Pauley was one of the first responders.
“The first thing he said when he walks down on the ice is, ‘Next time you guys are out here, you’ve got to call me,’” Sherburne recalled. “We figured we were in trouble and we had to clear it with somebody, so we said we’d make sure we can play next time. He said, ‘No, no, no. I mean I want to play next time.’”
Sherburne and Pauley fast became friends and are now teammates on the Hackeyes in the Iowa City Hockey Adult League (ICHAL) in Iowa City, Iowa.
Pauley, who is the adult league director, played in the league for one season before founding the Hackeyes in January. That’s when he invited Sherburne and Sherburne’s longtime friend Tommy Haines to play.
“He brought us in from the pond,” said Sherburne about Pauley.
Sherburne and Haines have a great bond on and off the ice. The pair met over a decade ago in Minneapolis and collaborated to put out their first documentary, “Pond Hockey.” Haines was the director and Sherburne the producer of the high-acclaimed film that examined the changing culture of pond hockey.
“I think we just happened into covering this growing but passionate subculture, and it was really fun to be there,” Sherburne said.
The documentary was released in 2008 through Northland Films and followed six teams all the way through a pond hockey tournament. The documentary ended up focusing two teams, one of which made it to the championship game. It also featured interviews with hockey stars Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby and Neal Broten.
“It really started out as a small project where we were just going to follow some teams from the tournament to talking to all these hockey greats by the end of it,” Haines said.
Before joining the Hackeyes, Sherburne, who is from St. Paul, had never played organized hockey in his life. Haines hadn’t competed for a couple of decades since growing up in hockey hotbed in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota.
“Down here, I think most guys understand we’re just glad to get a group of guys to play hockey in Iowa,” Haines said.
The Hackeyes — who get their name because they’re self-proclaimed hacks on the ice and live in the college town of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes — feature a broad mix of ages ranging from 18 to the late 50s.
“It’s mostly light-hearted and it’s a good group of guys,” Haines said. “That general camaraderie that comes with playing hockey is just a blast. Even though we’re in our 30s, we’re still trying to win the Stanley Cup. It’s fun out there, but it gets competitive.”
Skill sets range greatly in the ICHAL since a large number of players are university students. The Hawkeyes are one of the older teams in the eight-team league.
“Generally with the way our games go, the first period we do fine and our legs are with us,” Haines said. “When it gets to be late second or third, that’s where the young whippersnappers cruise around us.”
Sherburne and Haines like the change of pace from playing outdoor pond hockey to indoor on a rink. It took Sherburne a little time to adjust, but he loves the game. Pond hockey is usually played 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 and regular hockey is a different style at 5-on-5 plus a goalie.
“It’s a good mix for us,” Haines said. “We played so much during the winter time that it’s nice now in the spring that you can get a bunch of guys and play every Sunday and screw around on the rink indoors as well.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Adult hockey not only promotes a healthy and active lifestyle, it requires it. As adults get older, they increasingly need to emphasize regular exercise and a nutritious diet. There’s no easy way to go about it—but there is a fun, challenging and rewarding option that sticks with you for life:
That’s right. Hockey is part of the perfect prescription for an adults’ health regiment. Just ask Olympian and former NHL player Steve Jensen.
“Physical fitness is something we should all be thinking about as we get older,” says Jensen, a longtime certified USA Hockey coach/official. “There’s no better activity than hockey to stay in shape.”
Dr. Michael Stuart, chief medical officer for USA Hockey, says the positives of playing hockey are contagious.
“Participation in ice hockey provides all the benefits of exercise while building friendships and ensuring a fun time,” says Stuart, who is also the vice-chair of Orthopedic Surgery and the co-director of the Sports Medicine Center at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Dr. Stuart and colleague Dr. Edward Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center sketch out specific benefits for hockey players:
“Playing adult hockey is a great way to feel better, gain health benefits and have fun,” says Stuart, who also emphasizes maintaining a balanced diet. As for safety concerns, he adds: “The risk of injury is small in no-check, adult hockey games, but players should wear high-quality, well-fitting equipment, including a helmet and facial protection.”
The Minnesota-based Adult Hockey Association is starting to see employers embrace hockey as a health and performance benefit for its workforce. Some businesses are beginning to subsidize hockey registration fees for employees because they feel the activity fits the policy of their wellness programs.
“It’s not a lot, but we’re starting to see more and more trickle in,” says Dave Swenson, the AHA’s secretary treasurer who also serves on USA Hockey’s Adult Council and Minnesota Hockey’s Board of Directors.
Swenson wants this trend to continue growing, not just to see the number of players rise, but to reward players for committing to a healthy lifestyle.
“I’m hoping employers think about that a little more,” Swenson adds. “It’s not just softball leagues anymore. There are recreational hockey opportunities out there for adults.”
Hilary McNeish, a longtime player, ambassador, and current executive director of the Women’s Association of Colorado Hockey, says she sees the positive results in women’s hockey every day.
“There are so many benefits,” says McNeish, “but the quote I hear most from ladies is: ‘It’s like working out a lot, but it’s so fun, it doesn’t feel like working out!’”
Aside from the physical health gains, there’s also a mental side to the story that’s special to hockey players.
“There are so many positive experiences that come with it,” adds McNeish. “Being able to play a sport that so many deem difficult is also great for the mind and wonderful for your personal attitude.
“It’s great to see the looks from people when you can say, ‘I play hockey’”