When it came time to register for the 2017 Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Pond Hockey National Championships, a number of guys from the Fargin’ Ice Holes were in front of their computers and ready to go.
The registration process is fast and furious, and spots can fill up in a matter of minutes, sometimes seconds. The Fargin’ Ice Holes team members weren’t quick enough on the draw in 2016 and missed out.
That changed this past year. The Fargin’ Ice Holes, a reference to the film “Johnny Dangerously,” got three teams into the annual tournament. The group reserved spots in three divisions: Novice, 40+ Tier I and Beginner.
“As soon as I found out we had an opportunity to come up here with a beginner team, it was like, ‘Yep, I’m in,’” said Mike Freeman, who played on the Beginner team.
The guys in the Beginner Division, who competed in their first pond hockey tournament, all coach together in the Sauk City/Prairie Du Sac area in southwestern Wisconsin. They play together in a weekly league at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center.
“Half of us have been playing our whole lives and half of us just started like three years ago,” said Freeman, 37. “The beginners [team members] are the ones that started three years ago.”
“We had the opportunity and it’s fun,” said player Brandon Krueger. “It’s a good weekend to get together and have some fun with the guys.”
The seven guys on the beginner team, who range in age from the mid-30s to mid-40s, had a great time despite going 0-3. They were outscored 31-13.
Krueger joked that holding one team to nine goals in a game was a “partial victory.”
“It’s been a blast,” Freeman said. “We’re having so much fun. Even the one game we kind of got blown out in was a blast. The other two have been a little closer. Good camaraderie.”
The players had an idea on what to expect after getting some advice from other Fargin’ Ice Holes players on the other two teams.
“We had talked quite a bit about what it was,” said Krueger, 35. “They said, ‘Don’t plan on necessarily winning a whole lot, just drink.’”
It took the guys a little while to try and figure out strategy with just four players on the ice.
“We were given some pointers to kind of do a one, two, three, four like straight up and down the ice, but that didn’t work so well,” Freeman said. “Next year, we’ve at least found a goalie. Brandon’s pretty good at just standing in the way, so that’s the game plan next year and the rest of us will try to get some offense going.
“I think strategy-wise we’re figuring it out. Each game we’ve gotten a little better, they’ve been closer.”
One area the players are trying to master is how to deal with the ice conditions.
“The conditions are different, but the games themselves, I don’t think they’re that different,” Freeman said. “It’s a bunch of people out here looking to have some fun. ... This is exhausting. Skating on this is exhausting. You skate like 20 feet and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I’m done.’ There’s zero glide on this ice.”
The Fargin’ Ice Holes beginners squad is planning on coming back to Eagle River, Wisconsin, next year for the pond hockey championships. They are hoping to be a little more competitive on the ice.
“If the wins come, great,” Krueger said. “Otherwise, just have a good time — see all the different teams and all the different team names they come up with.”
Either way, the guys are going to have fun just hanging out.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.