2017-02-23 / Front Page

198 Teams Compete on Chain Lake

Tennis Feature To Be Expanded Next Year, and More Extra Activities Added
By Kevin R. Hess


At the 2017 U.P. Pond Hockey Tournament on Chain Lake, the trees and clear skies provide a picturesque background, while on the ice, The Original Six Pack (black jerseys) and the Mother Duckers (white jerseys) battle it out in a Women’s Division game Saturday morning, February 18. Eight women’s teams were among 198 who registered for the event. At the 2017 U.P. Pond Hockey Tournament on Chain Lake, the trees and clear skies provide a picturesque background, while on the ice, The Original Six Pack (black jerseys) and the Mother Duckers (white jerseys) battle it out in a Women’s Division game Saturday morning, February 18. Eight women’s teams were among 198 who registered for the event. In northern Michigan, an above 40-degree day in February is often a welcome sight. For the 198 hockey teams and 200 workers at the 2017 U.P. Pond Hockey Championship at St. Ignace last weekend, the warm weather presented some challenges. The tournament offered two days of hockey competition outdoors on Chain Lake Friday, February 17, and Saturday, February 18, with the finals round moved indoors at Little Bear East Arena Sunday, February 19. Throughout the weekend, volunteers helped maintain the ice and shuttled players from parking areas to Chain Lake.


warm weather that reached into the 40’s, the ice on many of the rinks developed standing water and slush. Many players made the best of it, trading in their ice skates for snow boots for better traction on the ice. Here, The Blood Clots and Driven II face off with all players wearing boots. warm weather that reached into the 40’s, the ice on many of the rinks developed standing water and slush. Many players made the best of it, trading in their ice skates for snow boots for better traction on the ice. Here, The Blood Clots and Driven II face off with all players wearing boots. While Friday’s games had great ice, the warm weather on Saturday created water spots and slush, causing many players to trade in their ice skates for boots for better footing during game play.

Many players acknowledged that the weather is not something anyone can control. Steve Rota, who played for Beer Me, participated in his first pond hockey tournament.

“I’m out here to have fun and hang out with the guys. You can’t control what the weather does. I’m still havWith ing a blast. I’d love to come back,” he said.

The Angry Beavers have competed in the event for seven years. Adam Jones, a player on the team, said it took away from some of the enjoyment of the event.


The Village Idiots, from St. Clair, won the Novice Tin Division. (Photographs by Dave Kunze) The Village Idiots, from St. Clair, won the Novice Tin Division. (Photographs by Dave Kunze) “Friday was probably the best ice we’ve ever played on up here, and Saturday was the worst ice. It’s still fun and we have a great weekend, but we came up here to play hockey,” he said.

Sunday’s championship games were all played inside on the arena’s good ice. Mark Spositio, St. Ignace Events Committee chairman, said that he spoke with 50 teams on Sunday after the championship games. He expects teams will not be discouraged from coming to future tournaments because of this weekend’s warm weather.

“The one consistent comment that I received from teams about the weather is that they would take 40- degrees over the 30-below we had a few years ago,” Mr. Sposito said. “Players will be back because there’s nothing like playing hockey outdoors on the lake.”


Team Traverse City, from Traverse City, won the Women’s Division at the 2017 U.P. Pond Hockey Championship. Team Traverse City, from Traverse City, won the Women’s Division at the 2017 U.P. Pond Hockey Championship. Mr. Sposito said that pond hockey has seen every type of weather imaginable over its 11-year existence.

“We can control everything about this event, except for the weather,” he said.

Due to a mild winter and thin ice coverage on Moran Bay, the pond hockey event was moved to Chain Lake this year. 2016’s event was held in and around Little Bear East Arena, as volunteers worked around the clock to create enough rinks on land to accommodate the teams.

This year, Chain Lake had nearly two feet of ice in spots in early February. Chain Lake provides more space, and saves the Special Events Committee from having to create rinks from scratch.


Lyons Wealth, from Winter Park, Florida, won the 21 & Over Platinum Division. Lyons Wealth, from Winter Park, Florida, won the 21 & Over Platinum Division. During Pond Hockey, the ice smoothing machine and plow trucks are not typically used on Saturday until the evening, when they would prepare the ice for Sunday’s championship games. This year, the trucks were out all day on Saturday.

“We wanted to show the players that we were making an effort to fix the rinks and we weren’t just there to take their money. We want them to have the best experience and want to come back,” said Mr. Sposito.

“There are three events of this size (Minneapolis, Eagle River, and St. Ignace). They’ve all faced this issue. It’s nothing new. The weather will cycle back and we plan to use the bay again next year,” he said.

On average, 75% of teams that compete return the following year, with 25% turnover of new teams. This year saw teams from New York, Tennessee, and South Dakota participate.


Blackrocks Brewery of St. Ignace won the 21 & Over Tin Division at the 2017 U.P. Pond Hockey Championship. Blackrocks Brewery of St. Ignace won the 21 & Over Tin Division at the 2017 U.P. Pond Hockey Championship. “South Dakota was a new state for us this year. We’ve now had 46 of the 48 continental United States compete in our tournament, as well as 11 different countries,” said Mr. Sposito.

A new activity for this year was the Yooper Ice Tennis Doubles Championship. It featured eight, two-person teams competing in a single-elimination tennis tournament on ice skates. The rink was set up in the infield, and was a huge hit.

“We had around 30 teams that wanted to sign up for next year’s tennis tournament,” said Mr. Sposito. “We’re definitely going to expand it next year.”

Organizers limited the registration for tennis to eight teams since they were trying it for the first time. They will send questionnaires to each of the 16 people who participated to get feedback from this year’s event and help in establishing rules and guidelines for future events.


Terry’s Plumbing Krew #1, from Wexford, Pennsylvania, won the 40 & Over Division. Terry’s Plumbing Krew #1, from Wexford, Pennsylvania, won the 40 & Over Division. A planned exhibition by the Rapid City Renegades, a women’s roller derby team, had to be cancelled Saturday, due to the need for the trucks to be available to maintain the ice rinks.

“The workers were just too busy. We would have had to tear down the tennis to set up for the exhibition, but we couldn’t afford to take the guys away from the hockey rinks,” said Mr. Sposito.

The roller derby team could be invited back next year, maybe even as part of a roller derby tournament rather than an exhibition. The events committee wants to expand the events that they offer in the infield. They will be making plans to expand the tennis tournament, as well as adding other events such as the roller derby tournament, curling exhibitions, and others, still to be determined. The tennis tournament will likely become a regular activity during pond hockey, while other events could change from year to year, offering new and unique experiences for players and spectators.


The Bi-Polar Bears from Milford won the Novice Lead Division. The Bi-Polar Bears from Milford won the Novice Lead Division. “The more events we offer, the more fun people have,” said Mr. Sposito.

Planning for pond hockey’s 12th year has already begun. The Special Events Committee met on Monday to review the weekend’s events and to begin planning for next year. The committee meets every Thursday at noon at the Mackinac Grille. Anyone is welcome to attend.

2017 Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship Results


Freda Gnomes from Sterling Heights won the Novice Bronze Division. Freda Gnomes from Sterling Heights won the Novice Bronze Division. 21 & Over Platinum: Lyons Wealth (Winter Park, Florida) defeated The Dusters (Chicago, Illinois), 21-14

21 & Over Gold: Snipemares (Stanwood) defeated team Louis (Lapeer), 14-9

21 & Over Silver: Centerfold Lounge #2 (Warren) defeated the Clurichauns (Baltimore, Maryland), 20-15

21 & Over Bronze: Stretch’s Curve/Rathskeller (Bay City) defeated the Sunnyvale V-Team, (Butler, Pennsylvania), 13-6

21 & Over Copper: Mangan’s Irish Hut (Harrison Township) defeated the Family Fare Phantoms (Sault Ste Marie), 15-8

21 & Over Tin: Blackrocks Brewery (St. Ignace) defeated Tendy Problems Hockey Apparel (Davison), 11-10

21 & Over Galvanized: Light ‘Em Up 3(Grosse Pte. Woods) defeated the Kzoo Ice Holes (Portage), 14-10

21 & Over Brass: The Thundercocks (Rochester) defeated the Zamboni Wranglers (Cadillac), 17-8


The Beer Team with a Hockey Problem, from Livonia, won the 21 & Over Lead Division. The Beer Team with a Hockey Problem, from Livonia, won the 21 & Over Lead Division. 21 & Over Lead: The Beer Team with a Hockey Problem 1 (Livonia) defeated the Cleveland Steamers II (Ann Arbor), 18-10

30 & Over Gold: Arsenal (Northville) defeated the Super Dudes (Ann Arbor), 11-9

30 & Over Silver: The Mad Hatters (Mattawan) defeated KO Consulting (Ray), 15-14

30 & Over Bronze: Crunch Berries (Goodrich) defeated No Muff Too Tuff (Kalamazoo), 10-6

30 & Over Copper: Mr. M’s (Beaverton) defeated the Longstick Slappers (Hickory Corners), 16-4

40 & Over: Terry’s Plumbing Krew #1 (Wexford, Pennsylvania) defeated Mancavesonline (Petoskey), 22-8

45 & Over: Hoof Hearted (South Lyon) defeated Das Auto (Fenton), 19-11

50 & Over: The Blood Clots (Rochester) defeated Driven I (Midland), 25-14


Moneyshots I, from Mt. Clemens, won the Novice Silver Division. Moneyshots I, from Mt. Clemens, won the Novice Silver Division. Novice Gold: PHAQ (Palmyra) defeated Cedar Hill Lodge Savages (Saginaw), 13-7

Novice Silver: Moneyshots I (Mt. Clemens) defeated Moneyshots II (Mt. Clemens), 8-6

Novice Bronze: Freda Gnomes (Sterling Heights) defeated the Illiana Chiefs (Lowell, Illinois), 18-11

Novice Copper: The Hunt Creek Trouser Trout (Lincoln) defeated the Stones (Pleasant Lake), 21-11

Novice Tin: The Village Idiots (St. Clair) defeated Murica (Kalamazoo), 15-6

Novice Galvanized: White Flame Brewing (Hudsonville) defeated War Wagon (Dunkirk New York), 11-9

Novice Brass: The Avocado Tacos (Alpena) defeated Moose (Ann Arbor), 15-13

Novice Lead: The Polar Bears (Milford) defeated the Shamrocks (Wyandotte), 17-11

Women’s Division: Team Traverse City defeated the Warriors (Ypsilanti), 22-20


Mangan’s Irish Hut from Harrison Township won the 21 & Over Copper Division. Mangan’s Irish Hut from Harrison Township won the 21 & Over Copper Division. Yooper Ice Tennis Doubles Championship:

Greasy Pipeblasters (Brad Passino & Andrew Mayrand) defeated The Pigs (Matt & Adam Pigula), 21-13

Photographer Dave Kunze of St. Ignace takes photographs of all winning teams and makes them available to purchase. All winning teams are listed here, but not all are pictured.



At right: One-hundred-ninetyeight hockey teams, eight ice tennis doubles teams, and numerous fans, family, and spectators descended upon Chain Lake in St. Ignace for the 2017 U.P. Pond Hockey Championship in St. Ignace Friday, February 17, through Sunday, February 19. This aerial view was taken Friday, February 17, over Chain Lake. Cheeseman Road can be seen alongside the lake, and I-75 at the top of the photograph. (Photograph by Dave Kunze) At right: One-hundred-ninetyeight hockey teams, eight ice tennis doubles teams, and numerous fans, family, and spectators descended upon Chain Lake in St. Ignace for the 2017 U.P. Pond Hockey Championship in St. Ignace Friday, February 17, through Sunday, February 19. This aerial view was taken Friday, February 17, over Chain Lake. Cheeseman Road can be seen alongside the lake, and I-75 at the top of the photograph. (Photograph by Dave Kunze)

2017 was the inaugural year for the Yooper Ice Tennis Doubles Championship, as part of the U.P Pond Hockey Championship. Eight teams of two competed in a single-elimination tournament. Games were played to 21 with rally scoring (point awarded on each serve). The Greasy Pipeblasters captured the championship. Here, Brad Passino (left) and Andrew Mayrand pose after the winning match. They were part of a hockey team of the same name, and their teammates were on the sidelines cheering them to victory. 2017 was the inaugural year for the Yooper Ice Tennis Doubles Championship, as part of the U.P Pond Hockey Championship. Eight teams of two competed in a single-elimination tournament. Games were played to 21 with rally scoring (point awarded on each serve). The Greasy Pipeblasters captured the championship. Here, Brad Passino (left) and Andrew Mayrand pose after the winning match. They were part of a hockey team of the same name, and their teammates were on the sidelines cheering them to victory.

The Six Shooters competed in the 30 and over Gold Division of the tournament. The team is made up of friends from Detroit, Harbor Springs, and Texas. Team members are (from left): Rob Higgins, Drew Michael, Michael Lebowitz, Jerry Taylor, Matt Cook, and Bobby Szlachcic. The Six Shooters competed in the 30 and over Gold Division of the tournament. The team is made up of friends from Detroit, Harbor Springs, and Texas. Team members are (from left): Rob Higgins, Drew Michael, Michael Lebowitz, Jerry Taylor, Matt Cook, and Bobby Szlachcic.

Hoof Hearted competed in the 45 and over division of the tournament. Players are from the Detroit area and are playing for the third straight year. Team members include (back, from left) Gary Rosteck, Pat Coutts; (front) Frank Connolly, Marty Atkari, Chris Benyo, Rich Novaco, and Paul Goodes. Hoof Hearted competed in the 45 and over division of the tournament. Players are from the Detroit area and are playing for the third straight year. Team members include (back, from left) Gary Rosteck, Pat Coutts; (front) Frank Connolly, Marty Atkari, Chris Benyo, Rich Novaco, and Paul Goodes.

Light ’Em Up #3 (dark jerseys) skates against the Cake Eaters (light jerseys) in a 21& Over Galvanized Division game. Light ’Em Up #3 would go on to win the division championship Sunday. Light ’Em Up #3 (dark jerseys) skates against the Cake Eaters (light jerseys) in a 21& Over Galvanized Division game. Light ’Em Up #3 would go on to win the division championship Sunday.

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