WGRD Pond Hockey Classic: 2014 Championships Coverage
The third annual WGRD Pond Hockey Classic came down to three championship games Sunday afternoon in which the title-clinching teams had plenty of familiarity with each other.
The Dematic Wolves, with a core of former players from Davenport University's American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II national title teams from 2008 to 2010, squeaked out a 10-8 win over the Wolfpack in the Gold Division championship.
Beer 30, with a nucleus of players with experience on Kenowa High School's varsity team, ran away with a 26-9 win over the Cold Ones in the Silver Division championship.
The Grifters defeated Maroon Union 12-9 in the Bronze Division championship. The game was a match-up mostly of players from the same team in a Grand Rapids men's rec league.
For the tournament, 38 teams -- six in the Gold Division and 16 apiece in the Silver and Bronze divisions -- played four-on-four games with six- to eight-man rosters on five scaled-down rinks and two-hole six-inch-high, six-foot-wide goalboxes on the western end of the frozen 283-acre surface of Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids.
For the Dematic Wolves, the Classic was an opportunity to play together again after having played some occasional recreational games, captain Scott Knight said. The Wolves won their second consecutive Gold Division title.
"Some of our guys player together in a rec league," said Knight, who coaches a Grand Rapids Area Hockey Association youth squad with a teammate. "But, really, this is the only time we all play together."
The Wolfpack's core consisted of Grand Valley State University club team players with some East Grand Rapids ties involved on the roster, captain Greg Kehr said.
"We've lost two years in a row to them," he said of the Wolves, who defeated the Wolfpack in preliminary round play last year. "It was a lot of fun (this weekend). The only thing with the weather being an issue was the wind."
It's the third year for Dematic, a tournament co-sponsor, to have teams in the classic. Dematic North America President & CEO John Baysore played for a Bronze Division team sponsored by the company.
Beer 30's core of players keep their skills from getting iced on a men's league team that plays at Walker Ice & Fitness Center, captain Joe Timmons said. Some of Beer 30's players were on the Silver Division titlist Timberwolves in the 2013 Classic.
He admitted surprise at Beer 30's romp in the title game. That was especially true considering that on the Cold Ones' roster was former NHL player Mike Knuble, a 41-year-old Kentwood native and East Grand Rapids resident who won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 and last played professionally during the 2012-13 season with the Philadelphia Flyers.
"It was fun for us to play against them, really," Timmons said. "We didn't know how we'd do."
The Bronze Division contest consisted of two sides playing essentially an intrasquad game from a Monday Night men's league team at Griff's Icehouse at Belknap Park, the practice facility of the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins.
WGRD Pond Hockey Classic Gold Division champion: Dematic Wolves
WGRD Pond Hockey Classic Silver Division champion: Beer 30
WGRD Pond Hockey Classic Bronze Division champions: Grifters