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!)