For those of us who grew up in the great white north, over pronounced any word with an OU in it and ended sentences with “eh?”, this is how it started. Sometimes it was a flat back yard that your Grandfather, Uncle or Dad would hose down. Sometimes it was the local river, pond or lake. If you were lucky enough to live near a park they would sometimes put up plywood boards to create the hockey rink with a warming hut that featured a coal burning pot bellied stove that would smell even worse when you put your black stick tape in it. This is usually where you experienced your first frost bite. I was one of those lucky ones. My grandfather would lace up my skates at the house. I could never get them tight enough. I would skate 3 blocks on the shoulder of the road to the park rink. After a few hours of pick up hockey, or “shinny” as we called it, I would skate back home take off my skates and grimace as my feet thawed out over the heat register. Now that was a great day, no coaches, no drills, no referees and even better if it was snowing. I didn’t skate on an indoor rink until I was about 10 years old.
I had a chance to relive that experience this a few weekends ago when I played in a Pond Hockey Tournament at Bow Mar. The weather was nicer than I remember in Canada. I was able to tie my own skates. We had kegs of beer, Jagermeister and a Grill rink-side. There were no coaches, no drills, very few rules and no referees.
What a great weekend Eh?