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Pond hockey is coming to Minocqua this weekend

Volunteers help clear the snow and set up for the American Pond Hockey invitational this weekend in Minocqua.
Katie Thoresen
Volunteers help clear the snow and set up for the American Pond Hockey invitational this weekend in Minocqua.

A UTV with a snowplow attached makes another pass over the ice on Lake Minocqua.

The area the driver is clearing is used to drawing a crowd in the summer as it’s where the Min-Aqua Bats Water Ski Team performs, often referred to as the Aqua Bowl.

This weekend, Will Jeffery is hoping to bring in a crowd for a different kind of entertainment: pond hockey.

“This is a hockey-rich community. We love our Lakeland Hawks and our youth team and the surrounding area. There’s really good hockey already. We hope to add an element of easy access to that sport so that we can drive more kids into the programs, but more importantly, just have really fun outdoor hockey experiences in the community,” said Jeffery, founder of American Pond Hockey.

Jeffery and some of his fellow Min-Aqua Bats started competing in a USA Pond Hockey tournament in Minneapolis years ago.

They always thought it would be great to have something similar in Minocqua.

Now that Jeffery lives here full-time, he’s spent the last year making the American Pond Hockey Invitational happen.

“We’re trying to create an intimate, fun, family-friendly, spectator-friendly, and very unique experience for everybody,” he said.

It starts with an opening ceremony at 3:00 Friday afternoon.

People can watch games Friday and Saturday from the bleachers, play some fun family games on shore, there will be live music and a food and beer tent featuring a pilsner brewed just for the American Pond Hockey Invitational by the local Rocky Reef Brewery.

The tournament will also be raising money for local organizations like the Never Forgotten Honor Flight, Minocqua Lions Club, Minocqua Forest Rider, and LUHS Hockey Club.

“You’ll see all sorts of different engagements with local businesses and groups and that’s why. It’s because of the folks who said, ‘We’re excited about this thing. How can we help?’ In return, what we can we do to include your club and what does it look like? It’s been a really creative process,” said Jeffery. “It’s probably my favorite element is the relationships and the things like that that I’ve managed to develop over the last year.”

Jeffery hopes the event will grow into more of a winter fest in the coming years, with more businesses getting involved and activities happening on shore.

“You can’t beat this place in the winter. We want to showcase that with this event to people how might not be familiar with us. We’re a big summer destination, but I think we’ve got just as much to offer in the winter,” said Jeffery.

Visit the American Pond Hockey website for a schedule of events.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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