There has been an outpouring of support for the family of a man who died while playing in a pond hockey tournament. Greg Riebe suffered a heart attack at 46. He collapsed after a game at the North American Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Minnetonka last month. His wife, Kate, says he had an undiagnosed genetic heart condition. And she said it’s the strength from friends and family that keeps her going.
Hundreds of hockey players are hitting the ice this weekend as part of the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships. It’s a chance to lace up your skates and celebrate hockey the way nature intended.
You could call it a hockey holiday. This year the Labatt Blue U.S. Pond Hockey Championships celebrate 10 years of fun out on the ice. The first-ever U.S. Pond Hockey Championships in 2006 saw 120 teams compete.
Skating out on the pond started a bit later this winter, all thanks to the warmer December Minnesota had. But, the cold temps are back just in time for the 10th Annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis.
Team WCCO braved the elements Saturday for a pair of charity pond hockey games on Lake Minnetonka. The team ranged in age from 14 to 62, and happily accepted the help of former Wild player Mark Parrish as a ringer. “This is awesome,” Parrish said. “It takes you right back. This is where it all began for all of us.” The wind chill on Lake Minnetonka was minus 15, but it was all for a good cause.
A siren wails on a frozen Lake Nokomis, signaling the half-way point in a fast-paced game. Blue skies and bright sun greet nearly 2,000 pond hockey faithful. Over the next few days, they will play like they did as kids. According to tournament’s co-commissioner Justin Kaufenberg, the competition is fast and, at times, furious on the lake’s 25 rinks.
Hockey players dream of winter days with bright blue skies, crisp temperatures and a frozen pond to skate on.