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Pond hockey takes players back to roots
Jennifer Kardell
Antelope Staff
Photo by Jennifer Kardell
Storm hockey players come together at Yanney Park for the first ever Pregame at the Pond. The event was part of Hockey Weekend Across America.

Most hockey players learn to play hockey on a pond, but in Kearney pond hockey wasn’t too familiar until the Storm held their first pond hockey event to show fans how hockey began for most of the team.

The Storm hosted its first ever “Pregame at the Pond” event, one of many in a series of events for Hockey Weekend Across America, at Yanney Park on Jan. 28.

Storm hockey players Anthony DeCenzo and Branden Fisher began with pond hockey.  

For DeCenzo, the event was pretty similar to how a real pond hockey game is played out. “The Pregame at the Pond was an unbelievable setup. Back in Minnesota we have great local outdoor facilities in our towns. This setup was similar to those of our flooded rinks on land since it had the nets, the lights and the padded boundaries set up as boards.

“Pond hockey was represented a little differently here. At home on the frozen ponds, like at Yanney, we would have to use crates or garbage cans as nets and snow banks as boundaries. And if you were fortunate enough to have a light set up in a tree on shore, you could play during the night. Otherwise you would have to call it quits at dark,” DeCenzo said.

Hockey has always been a lifestyle for the Hibbing, Minn. native. Growing up he spent countless hours on the pond in his backyard where his dad, a high school hockey coach, would set up a rink. “Hockey is my life and absolutely the greatest sport on earth, and ‘Pond Hockey’ was an unbelievable event to display that,” DeCenzo said.

Pond hockey is another familiar pastime for Soldotna, Alaska, native Branden Fisher. “The event was actually like pond hockey. Pond hockey is about getting a group of guys together and just having fun. It brought back a lot of memories for me. I haven’t skated on an outdoor rink in a long time, and it was nice to skate outdoors for a change,” Fisher said.

However, pond hockey is not familiar to all the players on the team. Some players were slightly nervous to take to the ice since they had never skated on a pond before— like Las Vegas native Steven Bolton. “I had never skated on a pond before, but it was an experience I will never forget. I actually learned to play hockey by playing in the street with friends,” Bolton said.

Bolton loved the experience and recommends that it become an annual event. “The pond hockey experience for me was amazing because it was my first time on a pond, and it was with a great group of friends. I would highly recommend this event return again in the future,” Bolton said.  

Bolton says he has a love for the game and hopes the community continues to support him and his teammates as well as hockey in the community.“Hockey is more than a game. It is a way of life and is something everyone can enjoy. Whether we know it or not, we are affecting others by playing this game, which is awesome. It is something everyone should try because playing the game you love can be very rewarding.”

UNK students can attend any Tri-City Storm game for $5 by showing proper student identification at any of the remaining home games.

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