To better appreciate todays pond hockey in the state of Minnesota one must relive how hockey on a frozen lake began in Minnesota. Hockey in Minnesota goes way back to the early years when Ice polo dominated the winter scenery. Ice polo was a game popular before the turn of the century, in Minnesota, Upper Michigan and New England and was played in the 1880’s in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Ice polo continued to be played in the large cities of the state with St. Paul being the leader, but by 1896 ice hockey which had been introduced to the area during the season of 1894-1895, had gradually become the preferred sport and interest in ice polo began to decline. The last state ice polo tournament, won by Duluth, was held in 1899 and by 1901 ice polo had been replaced by ice hockey (shinny), a game better suited to a smaller ice surface and indoor rinks.
In the winter the then unorganized game of shinny was often played by the youths and adults on the numerous lakes and ponds dotting the state. Sticks made from tree branches, blocks of wood or tin cans for pucks, and chunks of wood or large rocks for the goals were part of the game of shinny. Aside from the faceoff when players had to “shinny on your own side” rules were few and simple. Minneapolis, City of lakes as it is often called, is an ideal place for winter sports. With its cold weather and large Scandinavian population, who are inherently interested in winter sports, it was only natural that the city would become interested in ice hockey in the early 1900's. The city is blessed with numerous ponds, marshes, and lakes such as Calhoun, Nokomis, Lake if the Isles, Cedar, Hiawatha, and Diamond. The abundance of these combined with an average January temperature at 11 above, the coldest of any large city in the nation, affords the local citizens an opportunity to skate and play hockey.
"In 2006, the first-ever U.S. Pond Hockey Championships drew nearly 120 teams of
pond hockey players from across the nation to Minneapolis to play on 25 rinks. Tens
of thousands of spectators cheered them on. And, the tournament proudly donated a
portion of its profits to youth hockey charities, The Herb Brooks Foundation and
Today, the tournament has grown in size and national notoriety. ESPN.com has listed
it as one of the "101 things sports fans must experience before they die." Sports
Illustrated called the event "perfect in every detail.” It was the subject of a Jeopardy!
question. And now, the tournament will live in infamy in its very own board game:
Pond Hockey-opoly." Source in part USPondhockey.com
This is Modern day "Vintage Minnesota Hockey" at it's finest. Since it's
become a "Minnesota Hockey Festival" if you call yourself a true hockey fan.
At VintageMinnesotaHockey.Com we applaud everyone involved in making the USPondHockey Championship a success year after year. Thanks for instilling a little bit of "Vintage Minnesota Hockey" in us all, and keeping the rich tradition of pond hockey alive!