Silverthorne: Facing off at the pond
summit daily news
SILVERTHORNE – Sunday’s weather quickly changed from sunshine to fiercely blowing snow as the Krystal 93 pond hockey team faced off against Silverthorne-based Donkey Punch in the quarterfinals of the Pabst Blue Ribbon Colorado Pond Hockey Tournament.
The locals have hit the ice against each other before, mostly in Breckenridge’s adult league, but hadn’t met each other on the pond. Donkey Punch – made up of George Altz, Todd Goode, Kevin Esposito, Eddie Altz, Mark Roffey and Tom Ziskovsky – is also known as the Ice Crabs inside the Breckenridge arena. They play at least once a week together and can be seen on “nice weekend days” at North Pond Park, George Altz said.
Sunday was the last day of the second annual tournament, which switched venues to Silverthorne’s North Pond Park this year. Last year, it hosted about 25 “friends and family teams” at Frisco’s Meadow Creek Park, said event organizer Jeff Suffolk of Human Movement, which hosts events around the state and throughout the country. This year, about 50 teams registered, and between regular and playoff matchups, the park hosted about 250 games this weekend.
“I knew we needed the change,” said co-organizer David Janowiec, who used to work for the Town of Frisco. “We turned teams away last year. I headed up (to North Pond Park) the day after (last year’s tournament) to check it out.”
They were able to have six rinks instead of last year’s two, he added.
John O’Connor, of the Krystal 93 team, was one who had heard about last year’s event and tracked it down to participate this year. He regularly plays with a fellow Breckenridge resident, Kevin Duran. Others on his team hailed from Denver – John Kivlan and Matt DeTone – and New York City – John DeTone and Joe Mauro. O’Connor grew up outside of New York City playing hockey with another two teammates. It was the team’s first pond hockey tournament together, and they won 13-6 over Donkey Punch.
The main differences between rink and pond hockey, they said, is that the sideboards come in handy in rink hockey. There’s different strategy in pond hockey because offsides doesn’t exist and “you have to play the quirks and bounces of the pond,” O’Connor said.
Human Movement has been hosting events for two years under the current name and operated under a different name for several years prior. They host the Colorado Relay from Georgetown to Aspen and recently bought Denver’s Oktoberfest.
“This is how we learned to play, and we like PBR, so we decided to mix our two favorite things,” Suffolk said about how the event got started and why he and Janowiec – both from the northern Midwest – are as hands-on as they are with it (they were up most of the night preparing the ice for Sunday’s games).
As for how the event grew so quickly, Suffolk has no idea.
“I guess people like beer, hockey and the mountains,” he said, adding that the local sponsors have helped promote the event. But that doesn’t entirely explain why a California group switched their plans from a ski vacation to a pond hockey vacation upon stumbling across the event in an online search of what to do in Summit County.
“Our goal is to make it a destination event,” Janowiec said. “Come to Ski Country USA to play pond hockey and ski a few days.”
O’Connor said he’s excited to see the event’s progress.
“We have everything in Summit County … and now a premier hockey tournament,” he said. “It’s a different reason to come to Summit County.”
It’s likely to remain on President’s Day weekend in years to come, and Janowiec estimates it could grow to host up to 200 teams – in part because the ice is guaranteed, unlike other tournaments around the country. Teams hailed from Arizona, Wyoming, Michigan, North Dakota and New York in addition to many from Colorado.
Suffolk said Saturday was a big day for the tournament, with about a thousand spectators on a warmer day than most.
And Silverthorne staff are showing they want to keep the tournament at North Pond Park. Suffolk said members of the public works department showed up in the middle of the night to help clear snow that fell Saturday into Sunday. They’ve lent town equipment to manage to the ice, and Janowiec said it’s ideal to have the warming hut and dock already in place.
“Silverthorne is incredible to work with,” Suffolk said. “We’ve hosted more than 400 events all over the country and this has been the best city to work with.”
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