Minnesota Kicks Off League Play

March 01, 2013, 11:24 a.m. (ET)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Minnesota Team Handball League opened up play last night at the Minneapolis Sports Center with three teams taking the court for its inaugural season. Minnesota Black, led by Wilder Freed, Benson Jahnke and Craig Rot, took an early lead in the shortened three-month season, with commanding victories over Minnesota White (15-11) and Minnesota Green (14-9).

The White team, led by Stephan Storch, Josh Hetterick and Jan-Niklas Falkenhain, a fourth division player from Germany doing an internship in the Twin Cities, played inspired handball, splitting games with their newfound rivals.

Team Green suffered the season’s first setback, as captain Jens Wencker sprained his ankle late in the first game, and could only provide nominal minutes the rest of the night. USA Junior National Team player Tyler Shukert provided much needed scoring in Wencker’s absence.

The league has been in development for years, but only after sharp recruiting gains enjoyed after last summer’s Olympics did the Twin Cities have enough players to support a vibrant league. The games are modified, with 15-minute halves and cumulative penalties, as infractions from a team’s first game roll over into its second.

“We’re excited about the prospects of this local league,” said MNTH President Wilder Freed. “It is a great opportunity to play competitive handball on a weekly basis, and serves as a development environment for players who are new to the sport.”

A secondary goal of the MNTHL is to train and certify a pool of referees who will be available for local, regional and national tournaments. Plans are in the works for a referee clinic, although no dates have been set.

If you are interested in participating in the MNTHL, or becoming certified as a referee, you can contact the team at mnteamhandball@yahoo.com.