Marathon of Madness Tournament Opens Yakima Hockey Season
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Kevin Wiklund, Oregon Sports News
This weekend, the Yakima Ice Rink hosted the 8th annual Marathon of Madness Hockey Tournament. And while you can always get your fill of hockey during these bi-annual tournaments, this year, fans and players got their fill of something else as important to hockey as ice- beer. The Yakima Ice Rink boasted its first ever beer garden. The beer garden featured Iron Horse Brewery beers, each pour being $2. Iron Horse Brewery donated the beer, and all proceeds went directly to the Yakima Amateur Hockey Association (YAHA) – the nonprofit group that runs the rink in Yakima. “The rink broke even after Friday night’s beer sales” said Jon Belford, the Iron Horse hockey team captain. “It’s pretty awesome.”
Iron Horse Brewery has been integral in supporting both the Iron Horse Brewery hockey team, as well as YAHA. Each tournament, Iron Horse sends their team with kegs or crates of their beer with only a few simple requests; share their beer with the rest of the teams, take a photo with the Iron Horse Brewery banner, and most importantly - place either first or last in the tournament. In addition to libations, Iron Horse provides the team with jerseys, and last May hosted a pint night at the Iron Horse Pub in Ellensburg with all proceeds benefiting YAHA.
Although Iron Horse Brewery’s contributions are a welcome reprieve to both skaters and the rink alike, they highlight a larger issue in the area - hockey in the Kittitas and Yakima Valley needs all the help it can get. The Yakima Ice Rink is run solely by volunteers and open seven days a week from October until April. This is no small task, as programs include learn to skate, learn to play hockey, youth hockey leagues, and adult hockey leagues. The rink is also open every Friday and Saturday for public skate. All coaching, maintenance, scheduling, and staff are entirely motivated (and compensated) by the love of the game.
Another team in this year’s tournament, the Central Washington University team, is short on both players and funding. While the current roster sits at nine, the bench remains just short to remain competitive for 60 minutes of league play. In addition to roster issues, scheduling remains a constant problem for the CWU squad. Three years ago, the team played 12 games against other schools in the Northwest. Last year, they played six. This year, they’re scheduled for four. Finances undoubtedly play a role, as player dues fund around 80% of the year’s budget. That’s around $500 a guy. Goalie Michael Jeter says the biggest challenges the team faces are roster numbers and the lack of ice in Ellensburg. The team travels to Yakima, 40 miles south, for practice. But word is starting to trickle out about the CWU squad. And it isn’t just anyone showing up. “We are starting to get some quality players,” Jeter said. And the results are beginning to manifest. CWU took first place in both last spring’s Meltdown tournament and last weekend’s Marathon of Madness.
So if you’ve ever thought about giving hockey a shot, or just enjoy skating a few laps with your friends, check out the hard working folks at the Yakima Ice Rink.
The CWU Hockey Team can be found on Facebook.
The Iron Horse Hockey Team can also be found on Facebook.