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Mailbag: Pond Hockey

ARTHUR:

As a Californian, I didn't grow up near a pond or a warming house. I played outdoor pick up games, but that's not the same, even in the coldest of Pacific winters. I did, however, play with kids who grew up on ponds. Kids who would talk about the joys of shinny on a frozen lake. As an adult, I've met people who haven't skated since they were ten years old but vividly recall their childhood pond hockey. Their stories fed a fit of mystique in my brain, and they filled me with the desire to play on a pond the first time I visited Minnesota.

The purity of outdoor hockey is canon. Ken Dryden, in his passage on LaFleur, wrote that that was the only place that LaFleur or anyone could "create" the game, the only place where you could break out of the jello-molded assembly-line product that came out of rinks, drills and practices. And despite the Winter Classic and the dedicated dads that flood their backyards every December, the virtue of the outdoor game seems to be fading, along with the availability of the icy pond itself.

To combat that, there is Pond Hockey, a documentary extolling the joys of this vanishing pastime. The film is slightly Minnesota-flavored, with Sorem, Neal Broten and the Pond Hockey Championships in Minneapolis, but the filmmakers talk to their share of Canadians (including Gretz) and other International players.

You can watch the film in its entirety here. Or (I think) in the embedded object below (if I manage to get it working). It's a great film. I'm sure Daniel will agree once he watches it and returns my copy.