EAGLE RIVER - Playing hockey on a lake at the USA Pond Hockey Championships might be different for some, but Attila Barabas has played at a much higher level than this.
"The hockey was pretty intense," Barabas said.
Barabas played professional hockey in Romania when it was occupied by the Soviet Union and left it all behind for a chance at a better life.
"First of all, I escaped the communism, which was not pretty," Barabas said. "I always wanted to come to the United States, and I ended up here."
Hockey is one thing Barabas didn't leave behind. He joined Founders, a team from Milwaukee that has been in the tournament since its first year.
"He's an amazing guy," teammate Eric Scheel said. "We met him through a mutual friend on the team. When I started, he was already there and we all hit it off great with him."
Coming from Romania isn't the only way Barabas is different.
"Attila being 61 years old really gives us hope of what's possible for all the young guys, that we could be out here at 60 years old playing," teammate Jim LaTourette said.
"They keep me going," Barabas said of his teammates. "Most of the guys are 20 to 30 years younger than me."
The age difference aside, the guys see Barabas as just part of the team.
"He's a fantastic hockey player," LaTourette said. "He skates circles around the guys that are 25 years old some days."
"I never thought I'd be playing hockey or in this kind of tournament ever when I left Romania," Barabas said. "It's just an unbelievable feeling."