On golden pond hockey

Pond Hockey: Frozen Moments

Tomorrow morning, the puck will drop at 8 for the first game of a new pond hockey tournament on McKinney Lake in the storied hockey town of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

The North Woods Pond Hockey Tournament is modeled after the famous U.S. Pond Hockey Championship held annually at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis. The tournament begins at 8 a.m. and is expected to last all day. Twenty-four teams are signed up: many from the Grand Rapids area, but some are from Bemidji, Hibbing, Hermantown and beyond. Each game will be thirty minutes and there will be a variety of activities going on around the tournament.

The Grand Rapids Herald-Review reported on the North Woods Pond Hockey Tournament this week.

Pond hockey, of course, is just outdoor hockey played on a small rink with a smaller goal to account for there not being a goalie. It emphasizes shooting accuracy amid a chaotic mix of skating styles and haphazard play-calling. It is truly the kind of sport that develops from kids skating around their neighborhood rinks, roughly akin to the origin of hockey itself.

This was a good reminder of a wonderful book I came across this winter.

Pond Hockey: Frozen Moments” is a book of photographs put out by Northland Films and photographer Nicholas Wynia. The film company has done projects in Northern Minnesota. I heard about it from J.T. Haines, one of the people behind this book, an occasional commenter here at the blog.

“Pond Hockey: Frozen Moments” is a true picture book, ideal for the coffee table or waiting room of any hockey-centric family or business. The images provide a perfect representation of the feelings behind the winter tradition of outdoor hockey played on ice made not by man, but by the weather. You quickly see that this is a book about the way people come together, not just the sport or the wintery conditions of locations from Canada to the Midwest or Northeastern United States.

Many of the pictures were taken in Minnesota, including several on the Iron Range. Remarkably, the images seem to relate even when taken in mountainous western Canada or in large eastern cities.

I am a big proponent of the importance of place. The way people react to the place they live is always unique and inspiring. In Northern Minnesota, outdoor hockey is a product of our time and place on this spinning globe.

So check out the tournament, or the book, to get a feel for a special kind of hockey in the nation’s leading hockey state.

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