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Hackeyes are at Home on Iowa Ponds

08/25/2014, 4:30pm MDT
By Greg Bates - Special to

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.

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Why Hockey is the Best Workout

05/12/2017, 9:30am MDT
By Michael Rand

If you think you’re in pretty good shape – or even if you know you’re not – it’s possible to step into, say, a touch football game or a casual softball game without completely embarrassing yourself or winding up on the couch for a week with myriad pulled muscles.

But if you want an honest assessment of your current fitness level, try jumping into a hockey game. You will get a splash of cold water – or better yet, ice shavings – on your face.

While it’s true that many adult hockey league players are perhaps primarily motivated by the camaraderie and enjoyment of the sport, the fitness benefit cannot be overlooked, says Kevin Universal, a member of USA Hockey’s Adult Hockey Council and the president of the Carolina Amateur Hockey Association.

Once you start, you don’t want to stop. But once you stop, you’ll feel it once you start again.

The beauty of hockey

A shift in hockey combines the controlled dash of a 400-meter race with the urgency of an even shorter race.

“There are perishable skills – the combination of having the short, sprinter-type lung capacity, then getting back for a quick rest and sprint up the ice over and over,” Universal said. “That’s challenging for a lot of people."

That’s why it’s important to keep playing, even if it’s just once a week. If you fall out of that routine, you will feel it.

“I think we have at least a handful of guys on my team who travel a lot and don’t have time to work out except for hockey,” Universal said. “That’s their one or two days of exercise a week, and it’s so beneficial. Aside from just hanging out and having fun, joking around with the guys, they’ll use that as a primary means of exercise.”

Other workouts don’t measure up

Unless you like to race the person next to you on the treadmill or try to beat yesterday’s distance on the bike or elliptical, there isn’t much true competition in gym exercises. That doesn’t mean you aren’t working, but you aren’t working the same way you are when you truly compete.

“Being a part of the game and having something on the line, it makes you dig a little deeper and makes you get into it more and get more benefit,” Universal said. “When you’re not doing that and just out recreationally exercising and trying to burn calories, you don’t get the benefit. I have friends that run or lift weights, but if they aren’t getting that type of hockey workout consistently, they feel it after games and you see it in their play.”

Universal notes a recent example to emphasize his point: a guy who had played on one of his teams a decade ago before moving away has just returned and started back in hockey a few weeks ago.

“He had regularly exercised at the gym, but he was so gassed the first four or five games,” Universal added. “He’s finally getting his legs back. It’s funny. He regularly works out, lifts weights competitively. It’s not the same when you have to go out and sprint.”

Never too late to start

That said, don’t let the conditioning learning curve associated with hockey be a deterrent. If you used to play and are trying to get back into it, it’s never too late. Same goes for adults who have never played before.

Universal falls into that latter category. He says he grew up playing street hockey, but he never played in an organized league on the ice until he was 34. He picked it up after his kids took up the sport and he “got the itch” when some other newbies convinced him to try a beginners camp.

“I regularly run into people as adults and I encourage them to pick up the game,” Universal said. “You don’t have to have grown up with it. You just have to have the desire, and you can have some fun out there and get fit.”

Now 48, Universal can’t imagine life without the sport in so many ways – with fitness being primary among them.

“I feel the difference. I feel the lung capacity and I’m able to work harder in other areas,” Universal said. “This past weekend I did a hike with a 1,700-foot elevation drop over 1.3 miles. That’s like doing 170 flights of stairs. My legs aren’t sore, and I attribute that so much to skating. I’ve tried lacrosse, football, track, swimming, baseball, and this is definitely by far the most beneficial workout.”

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