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Pools whet appetites for hockey

Posted: June 26, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 26, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Nate Rust, left, and Drew Boitano of the Los Angeles team wait for the buzzer for the action to begin after L.A. scored against Colorado.

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This event involves a hockey puck and a hockey stick, but the ice is of the melted variety, and hundreds of gallons are overhead.

The 2011 Underwater Hockey National Championship saw scores of cardio-crazy competitors from across the country batting a 3.5-pound hockey puck underwater at the Santa Clarita Aquatics Center on Centre Pointe Parkway on Saturday.

“You have to be awesome to play this,” said underwater competitor Andrew Creedon of Virginia’s George Mason University.

“It’s 80-percent skill and 20-percent bad ass,” said Kent Hocutt, also of George Mason.

Tyera Eulberg, a 10-year veteran of the sport played entirely underwater, and a member of the Colorado team that beat the Club Puck team from San Jose, said there is no better cardiovascular workout than underwater hockey.

“They’ve beaten us at many, many tournaments,” she said of San Jose. “This year we brought a team that’s a little younger and little more competitive.”

The city of Santa Clarita partnered with Los Angeles Underwater Hockey Club to host the competition.

Players wear snorkels and bathing suits instead of hockey pads and helmets, and are expected to hold their breath while they hit a lead puck with a hockey stick the size of a wooden kitchen spoon.

Since players develop a rhythm bobbing up and down for air, strategy hinges on timing, Eulberg said.

“It is situational, but a lot of it is figuring out the rhythm of your teammates,” she said.

Players are expected back at the aquatic center today to wrap up the tournament.

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