As a kid we did not have cable TV. That only came in my early teenage years. Because of that, we didn’t have a chance to watch a ton of sports like people do today. But my siblings and I still love playing sports.
My dad enjoyed playing baseball the most and played on a church softball team. This led to me playing years of Little League Baseball®. Eventually in high school I would play soccer and basketball. But there was one sport that I organically grew to love over the years and that sport is hockey.
We lived in a small town away from any major city. In fact, we really didn’t live in a town at all, but out in the country. I’m not even sure when I grew up several decades ago that there were even leagues in the nearby small city I grew up by. So pond hockey became my replacement for that need.
We lived next to my grandparents through my childhood. They had a small pond on the back part of their property. It was left over from a small part-time farm that they ran with just a handful of animals.
Even growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania there wasn’t a lot of time to play pond hockey. Only several months (and some years several weeks) provided the perfect conditions for it. If there was too much snow and it froze to the ice you could not play because there wasn’t a smooth surface.
On the other hand if it was too warm the top surface of the ice would melt or the inlet would flood the pond. This made skating almost impossible, although there were times that we did not care and just played with wet skates and feet.
When we first started playing pond hockey all we had was some basic equipment. And by that, I mean, we pretty much just had sticks and pucks. If you’ve ever played pond hockey you know it’s easy to lose the puck permanently either in a snowbank, the outlet or the inlet.
After a while my dad got sick of buying new pucks and made some of his own. He would cut birch trees with the bandsaw that were about the size of a puck. He then would wrap the outside of the homemade puck with electrical tape, which formed an almost perfect puck like surface. Then he would melt wax onto the top and bottom of the puck which would harden and slide perfectly across the ice.
At first we just had sticks for goals. They seem to work, but then my dad scraped together some money and bought us some metal goals. They were nothing fancy, but we felt like we were in the NHL®.
Eventually my mom got sick of walking us down in the cold through the woods to watch us play on the ice. As you can relate, we couldn’t be trusted because as three young boys one of us would’ve been determined to get too close to the outlet or inlet and fall in. That’s when my dad came up with a new idea.
His idea was to build an ice-skating rink in the backyard. What he did was grab a landscaping contraption that looked like a barrel on its side with handles. He used that to roll the snow out. He then took a sprinkler, the kind you would water a garden with or run through in the summer, and create a base of ice. After that he would take the hose and fill in the indentation so that the glory of pond hockey could be brought to our backyard.
There are several other great stories I will save for the future in regards to pond hockey, but those of you who have played it know the glory of it. There’s something magical about playing hockey in the outdoors.
It’s most likely that the game was first played in the outdoors. It was meant to provide a distraction from the blistery winters of the north. There was nothing like skating down the ice, through light falling snow, and putting one in the top right corner.
Many nowadays have seen the magic that is pond hockey. This is to the point where both the NHL® and the AHL® have decided to play outdoor games several times a year. When the players are interviewed, whether during the pre-game or after the game has been played, you often hear them reminisce about the glory of pond hockey. You can see the glow in their eyes as they remember playing with siblings, neighbors and friends. They probably played with no equipment other than a stick and a puck too.
Have you ever played pond hockey? Is this something that you think you’d be interested in doing? The glory of pond hockey can only be compared to the glory of the post game groom. We know that after a good hockey game getting in that hot shower is where it’s at. It’s getting cleaned up once again to Lox standard. Having your hair on point again, feeling clean, and getting ready to talk about the game afterwards with friends is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
We love hockey here at Lox. In fact, we are a proud sponsor for the Pound Town Express located in southern Louisiana . If you are a hockey fan, make sure to check them out.