This weekend, amateur athletes (and a few former NHL players) from around the country will head to Lake Nokomis to play hockey in a more natural environment — meaning outdoors, on a perfectly imperfect rink, with the promise of beer afterward. The event opens Thursday with youth competitions, then continues into the weekend with divisions including 40-plus, 50-plus, boot hockey (no blades!), women, and rat rink (for guys and gals 18 and over who are newer to the sport but still want to play). Teams will square off bracket-style in hopes of earning top honors, bragging rights, and their team name etched on the Golden Shovel or Silver Scoop. Meanwhile, spectators can warm up in between games in the beer garden and the warming house tent, or practice their own moves at the Family Skating Rink, which is free and open to all. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.uspondhockey.com.
Thu., Jan. 17, 5-9 p.m.; Jan. 18-19, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 20, 7 a.m.-6 p.m., 2013