By Andi Bourne

Fun times, good people, great hockey


January 10, 2019

Nathan Bourne, Pathfinder

Brown Star's Matthew Lettunich knocks the puck loose from Team YMV's Justin Kennedy in the Cup League Championship Sunday, Jan. 6.

SEELEY LAKE – With players saying this was the best ice in the last nine years, the USA Hockey sanctioned Seeley Lake Pond Hockey Tournament happened without a hitch this past weekend Jan. 4-6. Although the number of teams was around 10 teams less than usual, the tournament still drew players from across the country and Canada.

One of the tournament founders and owner of Lindey's Prime Steak House Mike Lindemer started maintaining the ice on Seeley Lake in mid- December. He put 140 hours on his four-wheeler plowing the four rinks for this year's tournament.

Mike said there was a half an inch of water on the rinks Thursday, Jan. 3 from the unseasonably warm temperatures reaching the upper 40's. However, it froze overnight and they were able to make it playable by the start of the tournament Friday night. All four rinks were 16 inches of solid, black ice and were playable the entire tournament.

Tournament Organizer Megan Lindemer said they had an awesome turnout of volunteers and teams. While she wasn't sure why they had fewer teams this year, she felt that because of the way the holidays fell this year, it may have been hard for teams to make it so close to the New Year.

Despite the lower turnout, Mike said fewer teams made it more relaxed from the organizational standpoint. Since they were able to run four rinks with 10 less teams, games were wrapped up by Saturday evening instead of being played late into the night.

Turning Hat Tricks and the Mighty Merkins were both at the tournament for the first time and came over from Spokane.

Turning Hat Tricks was going to go play in a tournament in Kalispell last year but it was canceled. Teammate Craig Geist said they found the Seeley Lake Pond Hockey tournament online and they decide to enter.

"We heard that this one had never canceled so we were like okay, let's mark the calendar," said Turning Hat Trick's Jeff Elvigan.

Kevin Geist added that they heard the tournament went on last year even when players were required to play in boots. "That just sounded crazy."

The Turning Hat Tricks learned a lesson early in the tournament by losing to Loonie Asylum 11-20 Friday night.

"We got our [butts] kicked," said Elvigan. "We got to bed early Friday night and got up Saturday ready to play hard."

They won both games Saturday putting them up against Loonie Asylum Sunday morning in the playoffs. The rink flipped as Turning Hat Tricks handed Loonie Asylum their only loss for the tournament, 23-14. This earned them a spot in the championship game.

With only five players, Here4Beer wore them down in the championship.

"Next year we will try and be all healthy and have a full roster and maybe we will have a better shot," said Elvigan. "We want to make a name for ourselves."

Also traveling to the tournament, Saucy Little Minx's Nancy-Clair Laird flew in from Georgia like she has for the past seven years to play in the tournament.

"The fact that I won the women's for two years in a row is the pinnacle of my hockey career," said Laird who has played for 30 years. "It could not be better."

Laird added, "Mike [Lindemer] and Megan [Lindemer] and Dave [Lapham] and all the people that put on the tournament are just the best. They are fun and they are awesome. We appreciate their time and efforts and it really is one of the highlights of the year."

The Lindemer's were also grateful for all the volunteers and for the community support.

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Tournament organizer Mike Lindemer hands out this year's trophies to the Competitive League champions the Mighty Merkins from Spokane.


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