Pond hockey event adds
to Eagle River’s legacy
It was another chapter of history in the making last weekend for the Eagle River hockey tradition, as more than 2,000 hockey players from 30 states converged on Dollar Lake for the Labatt Club USA Hockey Pond Hockey Championships.
In its ninth year, the country’s largest pond hockey event drew 336 teams and chronicled 588 games over three days. They played on 30 rinks that were carved from the snow-covered ice of historic Dollar Lake, the site of many events including the first running of the now-famous snowmobile derby.
Billed as one of the biggest and best winter events in Wisconsin, it took the work of several hundred volunteers to perform jobs that included referee, scorekeeper, concession operator, parking tenant, shuttle driver and many others.
There are few rural communities in the country that could pull off such a massive and well-organized national event, but it happened here thanks to the Eagle River Fire Department, the Eagle River Recreation Association and Chanticleer Inn.
Eagle River and surrounding communities rallied in a spirit of cooperation to make it all happen. The town of Washington made Dollar Lake Road a one-way for the weekend to keep traffic flowing and both pedestrians and drivers safe.
USA Hockey, the main organizer, has billed the championships as taking “hockey back to its roots.” Those roots are strong in Eagle River, trademarked the State Hockey Capital, where the first organized hockey game in Wisconsin was played.
Once again, the area’s reputation for quality hockey, sportsmanship, tourism-based service and volunteerism shined brightly in this recreation paradise. We salute those who helped make it happen.
YMCA of the Northwoods
needs a presence here
It is disappointing news that the YMCA of the Northwoods will no longer oversee operation of the wellness and recreation facilities at Northland Pines High School, for the organization’s fitness trainers provided far more than simple supervision.
Officials with the Y said they needed a minimum of 300 memberships to make its involvement work, but they only reached 200 at the highest enrollment. The organization was losing about $15,000 a year, and that was without paying a director for the Eagle River operations.
The announcement and last week’s school board vote, that the school district would take over the facility, came as a surprise. We don’t recall a fund drive or membership campaign geared at Eagle River in recent months, either of which would have alerted more potential members to the possibility of losing Y oversight.
It is our hope that the YMCA of the Northwoods will continue to have a strong presence in the Northland Pines and Three Lakes school districts, as the Rhinelander facility has an indoor pool and other vital assets that will continue to be used by many families.