ST PAUL, Minn. (KARE) — Gearing up to head into a pool, usually doesn't involve a puck.
But players on Minnesota's underwater hockey club team, The Loons, wouldn't head into the water without it.
"I mean, it's got a little bit of hockey, some soccer positioning, swimming," said player, Pedro Bartol.
There are six players on each team. They use foot-long sticks to move a half pound, leaded puck across the floor of the pool.
It's Minnesota's most popular winter sport– thawed. With one very big difference.
"Ice hockey you can breathe," said Ben Erickson, President of the Minnesota Loons, "You hold your breath, dive down, play, and then come back up."
You may not have heard of the sport, but it's been around. Erickson has been playing since 1982.
"I hit my peak at about 40 and I've been going downhill ever since," he said.
The sport can be competitive. In just over a week, the Loons are headed to a national competition in Orlando.
"I've played on national and international teams," said Karen Thullmer, a member of the Loons and President of USOA Underwater Hockey.
The sport has been gaining popularity across the country, in part, Erickson thinks, due to cameras able to give a view of what happens underneath the water.
"I try to explain it to [people], but it's easier just to show them a clip on YouTube," Bartol said.
If you're interested in learning more about underwater hockey or playing with the Loons, find the link in our related links section.