LAKE WASHINGTON — Snappy “cracks” popped from the heels of hockey sticks slapping rubber pucks. Solid “thunks” followed when that rubber hit, and scuffed, brand new plastic pond hockey boards. Frozen swishes sprayed off sharpened skate blades sliding sideways across hard ice.
All those sounds, along with orders to “shoot,” “skate faster” and “pass the puck” echoed across the southwest bay of Lake Washington Saturday during the Anthony Ford Memorial Pond Hockey Tournament.
Robin Ford was smiling as she took a break to warm up, something that couldn’t happen last year because warm weather kept the tournament from happening.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “The weather’s good and everyone is having fun.”
The annual event, which started with six rinks in 2009, was created by Robin Ford and her husband, Michael, as a way to raise funds for the Anthony Ford Foundation. The foundation was set up to honor their son.
Anthony died in 2006 after battling a rare form of leukemia, but not before the 9-year-old boy inspired an entire community with his love for life and hockey.
Proceeds from the hockey tournament provide youth hockey scholarships for area kids in need. They also help fund an organization called Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia.
Anthony played hockey with the Mankato Area Hockey Association before his disease forced him off the ice. The Fords considered annual youth hockey tournaments as a fundraiser, but decided instead that they wanted an event that could be enjoyed by all hockey enthusiasts.
That plan has been a draw for the Borchardt family. Todd Borchardt’s son, Brett, was playing in a kids tournament and his older son, Bo, a Mankato East Cougar hockey alumnus, joined Todd to watch.
“The great thing about it is it’s something kids from the past can come back and play in,” Todd Borchardt said. “It’s just a fun day to hang out and play hockey.”