California is not the only place to find good vibrations.
Fueled by brats, beer and bluegrass the third annual Idaho Pond Hockey Tournament at Potters' Pond at Atkinson Park was rife with camaraderie and friendly competition. Even the spectators—who numbered in the hundreds—were having a great time.
"It's the most fun I have had since the power outage," said 5-year-old Clayton Elsbree, who was on hand to cheer on the Lumberjacks—not his dad's team mind you—but the squad featuring his teacher's fiancé, Shannon Flavin.
It was a smart choice by young Clayton, as the Lumberjacks with Flavin, Crist Cook, Kainoa Lopez, Tommy Trieschman, Bryan Winkler and Ned Burns went 6-0 to win the Golden Shovel for first place in the 16-team B bracket. The "tree fellas" as Trieshman also called them, came from two goals down in the championship to tie East Coast Flav 5-5 and send it into overtime, where they prevailed 6-5 on Winkler's score.
Featuring Julie Bell, Lucy Chubb, Wendy Speth, Tucker Hall and Tyler Davis-Jeffers, East Coast bumped off Ruscitto-Latham-Blanton in the loser-bracket final. M&M with Hermie Haavik, Dickie Nelson, Dave MacMillan, Terry Heneghan and Glenn Hunter qualified for the loser-out championship, but the squad's "250 years of experience" became an albatross as the day wore on and the knees wore out. They were forced to forfeit their shot at hockey immortality, although with lines by Haavik like, "the slowness of the game is just starting to catch up with our brand of hockey," they will surely not be forgotten.
Modeled after the National Pond Hockey Championship in St. Paul, Minn., organizers John Kearney Jr. of Atkinson Park, Dave Kier of the Blaine County Recreation District and founder Piers Lamb, divided the Atkinson Park ice into three separate rinks laid side by side. Playing 4-v-4, skaters scored by pocketing the puck in a square box with the corners cut out. It was the most popular tournament to date with 24 teams, including squads from California, Boise and Stanley, in addition to the local talent.
"This is what hockey should be about," Kearney said. "Outdoors, playing with your buddies. No slap shots and no goalies."
It tilt evoked the flavor of the good old days for the Minnesota-raised Haavik. "It's exactly what we did every day after school and on weekends."
Sunday's eight-team A bracket featured both style and substance, as the big boys came out to play. Comprised of local Midgets, the Banana Slugs (1-2), sported snappy blazers, others, like the 5B Bootleggers, wore spiffy scarves, but when push came to shove, the Bootleggers, organized by current Idaho Steelhead Cody Lampl, unwound their mufflers and the competition.
With Sinjin Thomas, Trevor Thomas, Cody Proctor, Caleb Bauikol, Matt Ward and Gus Smith, the Bootleggers beat the Panthers, Dutch Rudders, Vegas and, in the championship, LG Express, 13-12. Trevor Thomas slotted the game-winning goal with 30 seconds remaining to hand LG first runner-up for the second straight year.
"We have all been playing against each other since the third grade," Lampl said. "It's been pretty fun to be back."
In addition to covering the cost of next year's tournament, proceeds from the event will be donated to children's scholarship programs at the BCRD and Atkinson Park.