The Blue Stoners, named after the Central Street eatery, were crowned national champions at the 11th annual Labatt Blue/USA Adult Pond Hockey National tournament. The event took place on Dollar Lake in Eagle River, Wis., the first weekend in February and included 280 teams with nearly 2,000 players representing 30 States.
The Blue Stoners, a group of friends who play on the Evanston Adult Hockey League together, have been participating in the Pond Hockey Championship for the past seven years. This is the first year they brought home a trophy in their age group.
Pond hockey differs from regular hockey in that the game is played outside with a small net and no boards. The rinks are smaller and the periods shorter, but there are only seven players per team and four play at a time.
“Pond hockey is much more taxing on the body, ” said teammate Sam Bodine. “It has to do with all the starts and stops.”
Nick Bellios, who also coaches for the Evanston Youth Hockey Association along with several of his Blue Stoner teammates, said what he loves most about the annual trip up to Eagle River is spending time with his friends, in a beautiful setting and playing the game that they enjoy.
“As coaches, we understand that our players probably won’t make it to the pros, but hopefully they can develop a love for the game so they too can play on the pond with their friends for years to come,” Mr. Bellios said.
The Blue Stoners are looking forward to defending their trophy next February.