On one end of the rink, high-school-aged hockey players shred across the ice. They furiously swat at the puck, smacking ice, skates and legs in the process, determined to grab the upper hand. One player finally gets control of the puck, but doesn’t skate toward a goalie or net. Instead, he slaps the puck into a red goal marker laying flat on the ice.
It wasn’t a conventional hockey tournament, but with two dozen teams from around Wyoming and Colorado showing up, it proved to be a success.
Douglas Youth Hockey Association (DYHA) held its first Pond Hockey New Year’s Battle at the Barn tournament at the Douglas Ice Arena last weekend.
“We kind of threw it together at the last minute,” DYHA President Aundi Luckenbihl said. “We just put it out there, and parents of the club volunteered to make it happen.”
The tournament lasted from Friday to Sunday and had no affiliation with the Wyoming Amateur Hockey Association. It worked in a pool-play type of fashion, with each division’s teams playing each other. This then determined the seeding for the bracket.
A barricade split the ice rink so that two games in the three-on-three tournament could be played at once.
Along with the absence of a goalie, the games also differed from the norm in that they only lasted a single 25-minute period.
The Riverton River Rats won the 10 and under division, while the Cheyenne 5 won 12 and under, Hans of Douglas won 14 and under, the Kitties of Fort Collins, Colorado, captured the high-school age group crown. The Cheyenne Capitals won the girls 19 and under division.
Ice Cats head coach Chad Forsman praised Luckenbihl for her efforts in getting players more time on the ice.
“She’s a blessing for Douglas hockey and Wyoming hockey,” he said. “She’s awesome.”
Forsman added that three-on-three hockey can hone valuable skills used in regular games.
“It raises their awareness with the quick transitioning from offense to defense.”
Luckenbihl said she plans to throw the New Year’s tournament annually after its success this year.