I recently spoke with John Maloblocki, a California resident who is flying with the Beerhawks Team across the country to play in Minnesota’s annual US Pond Hockey Tournament on January 22-24, 2010. John shared a few of his thoughts on the team’s adaptation to Minnesota weather, game strategies, and how his team learned (the hard way) that wool is the way to go when playing outside in Minnesota’s snappy-cold temps.
How many years have been coming to the Pond Hockey Tournament?
Much of the team has been living in California for close to 20 years. We have one teammate from the Midwest. He heard about the tournament and threw it by us. That was three years ago, so this year is our third consecutive year playing. We didn’t play well our first year. A couple of us got frostbite—I remember it was record temps that year. We were caught off guard. We weren’t wearing the right type of gloves, the wrong face gear. So we quickly abandoned that idea and learned that wool was the way to go.
Being from California, how do you prepare for Minnesota weather?
We prepare by walking outside in boxers to get the newspaper—stand in front of the freezer as long as we can stand it—and hold onto a cold beer for as long as we can…
How did you pick your team name?
The Beerhawks were established in 2006. We had played on previous teams but we kept getting more competitive so we decided on our own team and logo. We liked the Blackhawks colors so we created our team and logo based on that.
What is your favorite part of the tournament?
The cold morning games. The wind is whipping, the sun is out, the ice crystals are blowing in the air, and the puck hasn’t dropped yet–so it’s a good start to the day.
So what’s your strategy for this year?
Starting out we had no clue about formation or strategy—we just guessed ourselves in the first half. The second year we got smarter. And this year we are a year wiser and using better strategy with the Diamond formation and figuring out who plays what position, etc. Our goal this year is to win one game—if we win one, we’ll be happy. We play two games on Friday and two on Saturday. If your team is lucky, you advance to Sunday games. Sunday has always been an open day for us. All our games this year are against three Minnesota teams, so it might be an embarrassment to them if they beat a team from California.
What will you do when you are in town?
We’ll be coming in on Thursday and head straight over to the lake. We’ll check in at the tent, have a few Summit beers, and check out the lake to show our newest player the size and temperatures we can expect. Friday morning (Opening day of tournament) you see hundreds of players, your adrenaline is pumping, and the whole thing is such a thrill.
We’re staying in downtown Minneapolis this time. We’ll visit a couple of our favorite establishments—we’ll check out The Local on Saturday night, hit the Leaning Tower of Pizza on Thursday, and the Lions Tap for cheeseburgers.
Do the Beerhawks have a team motto?
Play hockey, win, drink beer… 2 out of 3 ain’t bad!
*Members of the 2010 Beerhawks team: Johnny “Ricky Bobby” Brafford, Kevin “Think Keg” Jiang, Larry “Jiggy” Kammerer, Phil “Silver Spoon” Wickham, Eric “Pig Pen” Pane, and John “Blocki” Maloblocki.
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