Outdoor skating and outdoor hockey are surging in popularity. In a way the game is retreating back to its roots. Hockey at Fenway is a hit once again, the Winter Classic is here to stay and Michigan-Ohio State recently drew over 60,000 in Clevland. Some would argue, that is you haven't played hockey or skated outdoors then you haven't lived.
There was a time when many local youth programs, high school and college teams had outdoor rinks. St. John's Prep had one in the late 50's and early 60's. On a recent cold day I drove by a pond in my town and came to an immediate halt. Black ice! Not on the road, but the pond. My old Bauer Panters, Sherwood hockey stick and a puck are always in the back of my car. I walked onto the pond, tested the ice and within minutes was skating on a sheet of glass. The only skater on a pond, all to myself. Whether you are seven or 70 you never lose the trill of those first few
strides, carving your blades and shooting a puck that travels a quarter
of a mile. I was lucky to grow up in a town where we had ponds but
didn't need them. We had Mr. Lally. He worked for the public works
department. When the ground froze at the Clarke School playground Mr.
Lally would turn on the hydrant and flood the park. There was a fence
down the middle, hockey players on one side, skaters on the other.
Hundreds of children and adults would flock to the flooded playground to
learn how to skate, stake out an area for a hockey game or just
fantasize about being the next Olympic medalist.
Fresh air, red cheeks and burning thighs. Didn't get much better than
that then and the same can be said now. Whether you are playing a
tournament game, a pickup game or just getting some exercise, skating is
a welcome lifetime pleasure. So thanks to all the Mr. Lallys in the
world who turned on a hose or a hydrant and turned us all on to the joy