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Floor hockey tradition continues at CHS


February 21, 2020

Caleb Swanson

Senior Chad McColley leads his team, The Scrubs, as they advance toward sophomore Jack Sorensen in the net for The Care Bears .

Cloquet is a hockey town. From PeeWees to Bantams to high school to the Wilderness. Hockey is in our community's blood. However, hockey season falls on top of the blandest, most Vitamin D-deprived time of the school year. The holidays are over, the sun sets at 5 p.m. and spring break is too far on the horizon to bring any comfort.

The year was 2004. Cloquet high school football coach Tom Lenarz had a handful of football players who didn't play a winter sport. Coach Lenarz creatively roped his players into an early form of the floor hockey league that stands today.

The word got around, and Lenarz opened up his league to interested outsiders. The league has changed over the years. New rules were established, for safety reasons. The workout for football players snowballed into much more. Dynasties were formed - most notably the reign of the Pink Panthers - they won four consecutive championships 2013 through 2016.

The floor hockey scene has changed only slightly since the Pink Panther team graduated. Every Wednesday night for six weeks, floor hockey games take place in the small gym at CHS. Students of every grade and staff are welcome to play. The game is simple. Two opposing teams face off and try to score as many points against each other as possible. The game is almost ice hockey, only clunkier.

"I've been playing for three years now, and I like it because it's a great bonding experience between me and my friends who play and with all the teams we play against," senior Eric Elwood said.

Bonding with students you may never talk to or have a class with is an interesting and very healthy thing. At the end of the six weeks, you have a handful of new friends you've grown close to.

Caleb Swanson

Senior Jonny Dunaski and his little brother, freshman Patrick Dunaski, both play floor hockey at CHS. "Yes. I'm better than him at floor hockey," says Patrick.

This season there are seven teams competing for the championship title. Ages and sizes always differ, from first-year players to fourth-year players to teachers.

Senior and four-year floor hockey veteran Chad McColley's best advice for any aspiring hockey players out there is to "Keep your stick down, and play hard." This is the 11th year of competition for CHS. Years of shoe, ball, and determination can be seen in that gym floor.

Floor hockey is special in another sense. The small taste of glory when a rubber ball hits the back of the net is a feeling like no other. Smiles and cheers and small rivalries are the best way to get through our harsh winter months.

"We're out here to win," said senior rookie Trey Harkins. "We want to take that championship title home with us this year and we hope to impress everybody."

That is a common feeling among all the players. We may call it a pastime, but it's really a chance at glory.


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