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'Hockey Party': Hundreds Compete In Pond Hockey Tournament's Opening Weekend Finale

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Hundreds of competitors and fans braved below-zero temperatures to celebrate the finale of the U.S. Pond Hockey Tournament's opening weekend Sunday.

Starting at 8:15 a.m. under the morning sunlight, the surviving tournament teams in the "Rink Rat" division played for the chance at taking home the silver scoop.

"It's a great time, you have hundreds of teams that come out," said Derek Murphy, whose team played Sunday afternoon. "You play for 45 minutes and then go in the tent, drink some beers and food with the guys."

For Murphy and others, the event is almost a trip back in time.

"It reminds you of when you're a kid and your parents drop you off at the outdoor rink and leave you there all day then come pick you back up at the end of the day," he said. "That's what we're doing now as adults."

Event producer Jody Delorit, whose Wow Factor Sports company organizes the event, says that's one of her main goals.

"I think it stems from childhood memories," Delorit said. "For many of the players, it takes them back to their youth being on the pond, playing hockey without a lot of bells and whistles. The hockey the way nature intended, just with your friends out on the pond and getting a chance to reunite annual."

"It's just a big party out on the lake," said Matt Zupon, who competed in the event, but also stayed to watch other games. "A hockey party."

Both the men's and women's "Rink Rat" divisions as well as the "AARP" divisions finished play with champions named Sunday. On Wednesday, the event will continue with the next bracket of teams, including sled hockey.

"We've been looking so forward to this day since 2020, we're just super excited to be back," Delorit said.

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