Pond Hockey

We Canadians take our hockey seriously. HNIC – Hockey Night in Canada – is an institution on CBC and is the main event for a lot of people on Saturday nights. Rivalries are bitter. Flames vs the Oilers, Toronto vs Montreal – or gosh, don’t even get me started on the Sens (Ottawa Senators).  There are a lot of Bruins fans where I live right now (might have something to do with Marchant). Sid Crosby is from here. It doesn’t seem like Saturday night without a little trash talk and players chirping at each other…

This year’s NON SEASON is BIG NEWS. It seems very quiet without Don Cherry and Ron MacLean on the television for the east/west double header.

So much so that this article in the Edmonton Sun says that adult stores are seeing an uptick in sales this fall and they’re crediting the NHL labour dispute.

When I was growing up, not many of my classmates played organized hockey.  But I remember lots of pond hockey games.  Most of my skating was done at Mactaquac Provincial Park – they opened 2 of the golf course hazard ponds for public skating in the winter. There was a heated shack with benches where you could change, and they played horrible music over a loudspeaker. It was wonderful. Sometimes a parent would drop a bunch of us off on an evening for a few hours or, most likely, a Sunday afternoon. The pond right in front of the shack was for figure skating. The other pond, across the road, was for hockey only. Oh yes, and don’t forget the lodge/clubhouse – which had a canteen open on the weekends and where we used to take a dollar for hot chocolate. Yum!

I suck at hockey. For one thing, I’ve only ever had figure skates and there IS a difference. I never played hockey at the park, but our next door neighbour also had a pond in his cow pasture. A bunch of us used to skate there now and again, but because it was spring fed we had to wait until it was really really really frozen and not dangerous. I remember one time in particular I decided to play hockey and quickly discovered  there is a disconnect between my hands and my feet. I can skate and keep the puck on my stick. However, when I use my brain to think about shooting or passing, I forget about my feet. So the pattern was shoot, fall. Shoot, fall. OUCH.  A few years back I was skating just before Christmas. I was doing better with the passing and shooting thing but got a little too comfortable and decided to have a go at taking the puck from my husband. I fell. I hurt my wrist. Two days later, on Christmas morning, I was at the Emergency room getting a cast because it turned out it was broken. I should also mention that this spectacular example of klutziness and sports injury happened just 2 weeks before my deadline with a brand new editor. Auspicious beginning.

Still…there’s nothing quite like a rousing game of pond hockey in the cold outdoors. And when I was writing my current release, Sleigh Ride with the Rancher, I knew I had to have a pond hockey game. The hero, Blake, grew up playing hockey as so many prairie boys do. It seemed a natural thing for him to hold a pick-up game in his yard for some local guys.

My heroine, Hope, isn’t a die-hard hockey fan, but she sure does enjoy watching him play with “the boys”.  It’s a fun side of him she doesn’t often see.

How about you? Are you a hockey fan? Does it seem like this winter is a little less colourful without the NHL? And I’m not just talking about Don Cherry’s suits…

(PS, for a brilliant display and funny  commentary on Don’s style, check this out. I particularly like the Kerry Fraser reference!)




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9 thoughts on “Pond Hockey”

  1. Oh the games of hockey that was played on outdoor ice rinks in my childhood. Not that I played, but I watched all my brother’s and their friends play. We made ice rinks in backyards. Growing up in the city we had to find a vacant spot. Hockey of course is our National institution in Canada.. And I so miss Coach’s Corner. Grapes is the highlight of a Saturday Night In Canada.. Love books where a hockey player is the hero…

  2. Have you ever seen the movie The Cutting Edge with the injured Hockey Player who turns to figure skating.
    The prissy, wealthy figure skater, the rough and crude working class hockey player who made it big.

    This is so so so funny. One of my favorite movies of all time, a perfect romantic comedy.

  3. Hi Donna, fun post! I live where it never snows, but my neighbor boy ice hockey played on the local indoor rink. I enjoyed going to a lot of his games. Dang, that puck travels fast. What a sport. I’m not an athlete, so I really respect anybody who is. xo

  4. Have never seen a hockey game in person and regret that I never traveled to see my neices play in Minnesota. One even played college hockey. Her nickname was froggy because they said she looked like a frog as she defended the goal. Both of the girls are near 6 feet tall and film I saw of Josie as a goalie reminded me of a frog!! I did get a ride on the zamboni as I took her senio pictures and they let us use it for background!!

    Looking forward to reading this one!

  5. Not a hockey fan, Donna. Maybe because it isn’t played that much here in Utah. But I loved skating as a kid. One of my favorite memories was this big reservoir about 30 miles from home. A hard, sudden freeze would turn it to flawless glass. When that happened my dad or one of my uncles would take a bunch of us kids there to skate and warm up by a fire on the shore. Pure heaven.

  6. Not too much hockey going on, here in the desert. I don’t understand the sport, so I don’t even partake it on TV. It seems that the professional grade of the sport is pretty brutal. Many times I’ve seen interviews after a game with the guy who–doesn’t have any front teeth. You see him later,, with teeth. That can’t be a fun game.
    A person has to really be a VERY good skater to be able to not have to think where his feet are at any given moment.
    Many, Many years ago the lake south of town would freeze over and a number of the older citizens would skate. But over the years, and Climate change, has warmed our winters so it doesn’t freeze over any more.

  7. We had a pond in our cow pasture when we were kids and the teenage neighbor boys built hockey goals in their shop class so they could play hockey on our pond. They didn’t like it when my mom told them they had to let us little kids skate,too, when they were having a game. That was my first taste of hockey. In college hockey was king! If you yelled at a football game people would look at you funny, but at a hockey game—the crowd went wild. And this was in New York State not Canada.

  8. I grew up on the New York side of the Quebec border. Hockey was always, still is, a popular sport. I never did try to play, I had enough trouble trying not to break my neck on figure skates. When we lived in town, I skated at the rink downtown. When we moved out in the country, there were frozen places in the fields we could use to skate. Not very big or smooth, but it worked. When we had our own family, my husband build a small skating rink in our yard at the base where we were stationed. It had a snow wall around it and he built a slide on one side. The kids loved it and half the neighborhood was usually on it. I haven’t skated in years and would be afraid to try. I have been falling too often lately and that is just walking across the floor. I’m lucky I haven’t broken anything.

    My dad and nephew came out to visit us when we lived in Colorado Springs. Their biggest thrill was having several members of the Montreal Canadiens on the same flight home. My dad never misses a game and is glad he can get canadian TV stations because their coverage is better.

    I hadn’t watched a game in a long time until last year. I had forgotten how fast they move. It is hard to keep up just watching it, never mind playing it.

    thanks for bringing back good memories.

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