Hockey players go back to their roots in pond hockey tournament

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- On Saturday, 65 pond hockey teams in 7 divisions hit the ice at Sunnyvale Park, battling it out in a weekend-long tournament.

Hockey players skate on the pond in the Leinenkugel Classic pond hockey tournament (WSAW Photo).

The 9th annual Leinenkugel classic kicked off Friday night and drew people from as far away as Iowa and the Twin Cities.

"We're all here because it's a game we started playing when we were little kids, and we're still playing it to this day," said Scott Liegl, co-director of the Wausau Central Wisconsin Sports Authority Leinenkugel Classic Pond Hockey Tournament.

Teams battled for bragging rights on the ice at Sunnyvale Park.

"Some of us started, our first time skating was on a frozen pond or a municipal park," said Leigl.

Pond hockey takes the game back to its roots. For some, it's about chasing that childhood excitement.

"It's kind of like Christmas, when you remember waking up at mom and dad's house, it's kind of like that feeling all over again,” he said.

Others make the tournament an excuse to catch up with friends from far away.

"We get together once a year, this is the only time that my team actually sees each other. You don't have the luxury of seeing everyone every day, so you catch up really fast. People have kids, you get to see what's new with the families every time you see each other,” said Bronson Kendzierski, who came in from the Twin Cities to play.

They also have to remember how to navigate the rough ice.

"It's drier, it's chippier, you want to dispense with the fanciness, move the puck up and keep it simple," said Tristan Jenista, who was in town to play.

“The ice isn't always perfect, you're kind of at the mercy of the weather, and you give and take that weight,” said Kendzierski.

One perk everyone enjoyed was the warm tent and cold beer waiting at the end of each game.

“We’re here to drink beer and have fun,” said Jenista.