The logic behind Hockey Day in Minnesota on Saturday was lost on the guy who takes care of a rink in the Birchwood Village neighborhood on the shore of White Bear Lake. It's a day of watching hockey on TV, if you have cable or satellite TV and subscribe to Fox Sports North, which came up with the idea. He figures everyone who wants to watch the sport in the state of hockey, should be able to. He works hard to make sure everyone who wants to play it, can play it, too.
He was just finishing up shoveling the overnight and morning snowfall off the rink on Sunday. He had flooded it the night before. It is, of course, outside, just the way God intended hockey to be played.
So on Sunday we had our own Hockey Day in Minnesota, the first time -- I have to admit -- I've tried to play the sport since I played in a senior league. That was 1983 -- 26 years ago -- and I'm much more senior now.
When I was a kid, we played pond hockey and our hockey leagues always played in outdoor rinks. After our games, we'd all pick up shovels and clean the ice. Those days, I learned on Sunday, are gone.
"Kids today," our snow-clearing benefactor said, "they drive around the neighborhood until they see me finish shoveling." Then it's hockey time. And they don't shovel the ice when they're done, he told us.
We arrived just as he was finished shoveling, oddly enough. After a bit of a warm-up, we were ready to organize a game among the 10 or so people who trickled in. When it's time for strangers to play hockey, there are no words. One person throws his stick down at center ice, and then another, and another.
Then, someone picks through the pile, throwing one stick on one side of the rink, and another on another side, until all the sticks have been sorted. Wherever your stick ends up is the team you're on.
We played for several hours, the snow still gently falling. The larger and younger players who had no trouble getting around me seeming larger and younger than ever before.
I scored a few goals, although I have to admit two of them came against the kid who was stuck in goal and wasn't that interested in being there. His dad had dragged him off to the rink along with his brother, and he wasn't about to enthusiastically work hard to keep our side from scoring on his team -- a team featuring his dad, by the way.
We had a few little kids playing with us, and when one of them got the puck, we all slowed down and let them by us, pretending to put up a spirited defense. That made me smile until I realized that the younger and larger players were doing the same thing to me.
And then it was over. I told my hockey-playing pal it was time to leave; I had things to do and having a coronary wasn't one of them.
Besides, I didn't want to get stuck shoveling the ice.
Photo: Clearing White Bear Lake for hockey in 1909. Courtesy: Minnesota Historical Society.
Great for you, Bob! My daughter's hockey coach cancelled their 7:10 am practice today (YAY) and suggested a game of pickup hockey at Groveland at 11 instead. Six girls, Coach and a couple of dads showed up and played against boy strangers of all ages (and won). After the game, my daughter and I were shoveling off the ice until the sweeper/Zamboni driver came over and yelled at us. He was concerned we wouldn't shovel the snow off the boards (we were) where the sweeper wouldn't reach and would mess up the Zamboni's path. I learned later that the shovels we were using were brought there by a couple of skaters. They weren't the property of the rec center. Those shovels were safely stored inside by the Zamboni and away from the skaters. So...if you don't want to shovel the ice, go to Groveland!
What a great comment and what a terrific time that must have been. To be honest, we did sort of shovel. We shoveled along the boards, and, actually, that was another silent moment.
I grabbed a shovel and a few others did, too. With no instruction, and no words, the individuals developed a good system of going in opposite directions...meeting at a central point to fill each shovel with the pressure in the opposite direction from the other shoveler, and then lift it over the boards.
It was a metaphor for something; I just haven't figured out for what, yet.
Today was the first time my older son (4 going on 5) has had on skates. After a few terrified minutes, he realized he wasn't going to die, and gradually worked his way to laughing and saying "look at me, mom! I'm doing it all by my self!". If we're going to stay in the Hockey State, I figure he ought to at least learn to skate. Next year's Christmas present? Ice skates.
Bob - How about giving us all an opportunity to share our Hockey Day pictures?
Sure. Send 'em and I'll post 'em. Use this link
hi was wondering if the ice will be ready tomarrow 12/14/11