And the Winner of the Pond Hockey story contest is…

The Winner of the Long Pond Story Contest is Sean Gill of Stow, MA. Read on to have a look at Sean’s winning story.

The Quixotic Quest for Frozen Perfection
By Sean Gill, Stow, MA

Dark, dreary, day-light deprived days can be downright depressing for most of us New Englanders. Most seasonal affective disorder sufferers want to be anywhere other than here. A vast majority trudge to and from work in cuss-filled commuter boxes, their drudgery broken up only by occasional bits of televised joy or cozy fire-side book reading. Some seek solace on the sandy shores of the Caribbean for fleeting days of sun-soaked rejuvenation. Others head to mountain resorts for alpine excursions of downhill speed, scenery and fine dining. Not me. I head to my backyard. You may have noticed my peers lately. Over the past fifteen years or so, our insanity has sprouted up across numerous suburban lots north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Some mock our quixotic quest for frozen perfection. But in the end, most venerate our backyard hockey rinks. Usually, it starts with a simple rhetorical question. “Wouldn’t it be cool to add some fun to the winter and have a backyard ice rink?” Of course it would be. None of us seem to get outside or exercise enough in the winter. A backyard rink would be the perfect antidote to that. Yet the follow-up question is always underestimated. “How hard can it be?” Oh sure. We have some idea of the challenge. Yet first we dream about endless good times to be had, or remember our younger days spent outdoors on glistening ice with friends, hand-me-down skates and improvised rules and games. After all, who didn’t want to lace them up and go skate outside after watching the documentary “Pond Hockey” detailing the US Pond Hockey Championships in Minnesota? In that film, I’m sure we all agreed with Neal Broten when he lamented that kids today don’t play outside enough and said, “I wish I could go back and be 8 years old again for just a couple of days.” We’ve read everything written by the late Jack Falla, the godfather of backyard hockey in New England. His “Home Ice: Reflections on Backyard Rinks and Frozen Ponds” detailing the joys and tribulations of his Bacon Street Omni in Natick, MA served as the inspiration for untold backyard ice palaces here and across North America. His simple, declarative statement, “I’ve never been unhappy on the rink” rings true to us puckheads. We’ve followed John Buccigross, Darren Dreger, Kevin Paul DuPont and other hockey media members on twitter, facebook and elsewhere detailing the construction of their ice sheets of dreams. We’ve heard the legend of Walter Gretzky, sitting at the kitchen table, carefully observing his lawn sprinkler slowly flooding a flat, snow-packed backyard in Brantford, Ontario to create the backyard rink that launched the hockey protégé that became the Great One. And we’ve probably picked up brochures in local hockey shops from firms and people offering customized construction of backyard rinks. We all want to be part of it. How hard can it be? I’ll save you some suspense. It’s hard. This is my sixth season chasing my platonic ideal of frozen perfection. The first year was a dud. I digested everything I could find about building a backyard rink. I followed countless internet communities, sought on-line tips and tricks, and ordered a pre-fabricated kit from NiceRink (whom I unreservedly recommend and endorse). I carefully measured the outline of the 48’ x 40’ rink, installed the boards and brackets, placed the liner down and waited for a cold streak. People advised not to install a backyard rink in an area that had more than 6 inches or so of pitch. I carefully surveyed the site with my eyes and said, “it looks flat.” It wasn’t, as was soon revealed when we started flooding the area with a hose and there was over a foot of water on one end and nothing on the other half the rink. Chalking it up to a learning experience, I thought I could make a go of it for the season with a 20’ x 20’ skating area and re-grade that part of the yard later in the spring. But, like every other rink builder, I learned Mother Nature always has other ideas. Within a day or two, we had a huge ice storm that knocked over two trees directly on top of this sad excuse for a rink. Given the widespread damage throughout the region, we couldn’t get a tree crew to come by and help with the tree removal until late February. Season 1 thus ended in complete failure. But, as rink builders will tell you, lessons learned last year translate into tips for success next year. Despite the incredulous looks I received from family members and neighbors when I asserted that I wanted to have a landscape crew come over with laser levels and fill to create perfectly flat 48’ x 40’ area in the backyard, even though we lived on a street with “Hill” in its name, that’s exactly what I did. And, in what has since become an annual tradition, on the Friday after Thanksgiving we began measuring the area to outline the shape of the rink, install the brackets & boards, started to compulsively watch weather.com’s local 10 day outlook to wait for a cold streak and thus plan for the right time to begin adding water and awaiting the frozen miracle. Every year it is different. Some years, I get a first skate in early December. Other years, it is not until after New Year’s. Sometimes the last skate is in February. Other times it is around St. Patrick’s Day. Yet, the challenge inherent to each season’s rink is different. A few years ago, it was snow. Most of us get more than enough snow shoveling duty when clearing our walkways or driveways. Backyard rink builders also contend with an additional few hundred square feet of snow removal every time the sky drops a few inches of snow. And waiting to clear it is not an option. The longer the snow sits there, the more problems are created in terms of slush and other ice defects. This year, the bane of New England rink builders’ existence has been sleet and slush due to continuous precipitation coming down on each side of the 32 degree line of frozen demarcation. Nothing can ruin a backyard rink worse than footprints made in slush that soon get frozen over and form semi-permanent speed bumps in an otherwise smooth ice surface. But, the one thing that remains constant from year to year is the requirement of constant vigilance and maintenance. Snow removal, slush management, ice resurfacing (mini-flooding from backyard ‘home-boni’s’), leaf & debris removal…it never ends. Throw in incidental commitments, like work, travel and other life requirements, and the headaches, challenges, and cursing increase exponentially. And the quest for smooth ice is never sated, given continuously fluctuating temperatures and Mother Nature’s frequent non-cooperation. And no matter what you do and how much you work at it, there are maybe 3 days a year when you’re truly happy with the ice surface. As much as we like to think of ourselves as amateur versions NHL ice guru Dan Craig (who is in charge of the NHL Winter Classic outdoor ice rinks), there is little chance we can ever replicate the idealized ice surfaces you see on the January 1st NHL showcase. And, I would estimate the work to fun ratio is on the wrong side of 2:1. But like Tom Hanks’ character, Jimmy Dugan, said about another sport in another context, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” So why do it? The aforementioned Jack Falla has written exquisitely about the joys of sharing the backyard rink with friends and family. Those frozen memories of kids growing up, gaining confidence, and making lifelong friendships are part of it. Plus, he could always tell who was a jerk based upon their willingness to help shovel the rink. It’s another way of saying backyard hockey may not build character, but it reveals it. Others have written elegantly on creating a haven for people to have fun, improvise, and play hockey in a manner that is too rare in these days of structured practices, organized travel leagues, and joyless hockey parents. All of that is true. But for me, there’s more. I guess part of it is selfish. My backyard rink can be a fortress of solitude at times. In times of stress, I’ve always found the perfect outlet has been banging slapshots. Since college, my great escape has been to find a rink somewhere offering stick practice for a couple of hours. Then, as now on the backyard rink, the phone doesn’t ring, no incoming emails demand attention, and nobody complains. Moreover, there are moments of serenity that are so perfect, so fleeting, and so unspoiled that I just crave more of them. To me, tranquility consists of those sounds, sights, and sensations that exist only on the backyard rink. The sound of skates cutting through the ice as you cross-over in the corner. The luminescence from a full moon rising over the surrounding trees reflecting off the snow. The thwack of a slapshot followed milliseconds later by the ping of the puck deflecting off the iron crossbar into a net. The cold air burning your lungs as your exhausted body craves more oxygen. Some refer to these sensations as ‘being in the moment’. My old theology professor, Father Ciani, SJ, called them liminal moments, or being in a place between the ordinary and the sacred. I call them a nightly occurrence. And so we backyard rink builders endure. We put up with the fickle weather. We tolerate the incredulous looks from neighbors. Deep down we know to outsiders, our continuing quest for frozen nirvana may appear foolhardy. We view our backyard rinks in the same way Lou Holtz described another fabled place. “If you’ve been here, no explanation is necessary. If you haven’t been, no explanation will suffice.”

Long Pond Heritage Classic Cancelled due to Pending Storm

Long Pond Heritage Classic Cancelled due to Pending Storm

February 7, 2013

The Long Pond Heritage Classic Committee has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Long Pond Heritage Classic event on Saturday, February 9, due to a forecasted snowstorm.

“The safety of our players, celebrities, vendors, volunteers and spectators is our top priority,” says Event Chair Rob Frost.

Former NHL celebrities such as Terry O’Reilly, Rick Middleton and Brian Propp faced potential flight cancellations or delays, while other Long Pond Heritage Classic players were set to travel from various communities across Nova Scotia. “We want to ensure people are off the roads when the storm hits,” says Frost. Players will receive a complete refund on their tickets.

The cancellation affects the Saturday events only. The Friday night double header at the Windsor Arena is still on. The Windsor RCMP will face–off against the Windsor/Hantsport Firefighters at 6p.m. while the Long Pond Classic All-Star game starts at 7:30 p.m.

Event organizers are currently discussing whether it is feasible to reschedule the event, or begin planning for next year.

The Long Pond Heritage Classic Committee would like to thank all volunteers, players, celebrities and vendors for their support and understanding.

2013 Long Pond Heritage Classic to pay homage to six great Maritime senior hockey powerhouses

The 2013 Long Pond Heritage Classic will pay homage to the six great Maritime senior hockey powerhouses: the Saint John Beavers, Sydney Millionaires, Charlottetown Abbies, Truro Bearcats and the Halifax Wolverines. Here’s Long Pond Heritage Classic founder Danny Dill on why we’re paying tribute to these great teams by naming our six shinny teams in their honour:

For the 2013 Long Pond Classic my intent was to honor and pay homeage to six great Maritime Senior hockey powerhouses.They were literally the talk of their towns back in their ‘hey days. I thought it would be a nice gesture, like a token of respect from Long Pond and Windsor to recognize these historic hockey franchises and not let the hockey world forget about them.

I grew up listening to my father and his colleagues from these cities talk steady about how great these teams and players were. Many of them players played in the NHL at one time or another.

These teams competed and battled in the Maritimes hoping to earn the right to move on to challenge for the Allan Cup.The Allan Cup was donated in 1909 shortly after the Stanley Cup. It was to be awarded for Canada’s top amateur hockey supremcy each season. It was like the next best thing to winning the Stanley Cup.

Hockey legends were born from Allan Cup Playdowns.

Moncton Hawks won it twice back to back in 1933 and 1934 and Halifax in 1935 led by our very own Windsor native Ernie Mosher who was the captain of Halifax. No doubt he grew up playing shinny on Long Pond.

Sydney made it to the Allan Cup once in 1941, losing a tough final to Regina. Saint John,Truro,and Charlottetown also were very competitive in Maritime League play back in those days. However many years later Truro won the Allan Cup in1998, Saint John in 1992 and Charlottetown in 1991.

Original Calder Trophy Awarded to NHL Rookie of the Year on Display

ORIGINAL CALDER TROPHY AWARDED TO NHL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR ON DISPLAY TONIGHT AT THE EMERA OVAL

February 6, 2012

Calder Cup
Photo Credit: Avard Woolaver

A piece of hockey history will be on display at the Emera Oval tonight between 4p.m. and 8p.m.

The first ever Calder Memorial Trophy, awarded to NHL legend Syl Apps for his Rookie of the Year performance in the 1936-37 season, will be on display at the Emera Oval until 8p.m.

Syl Apps’ son, NHL star Syl Apps. Jr., (father to women’s’ hockey star Gillian Apps) sent his father’s Calder Trophy to Nova Scotia to help celebrate the Long Pond Heritage Classic, a pond hockey fundraiser that his being held this Saturday, February 11 at Long Pond in Windsor, Nova Scotia, the birthplace of hockey. Syl Apps Jr., as well as NHL star Terry O’Reilly and AHL President Dave Andrews will be playing at the Long Pond Heritage Classic (longpondclassic.com).

Rob Frost, Chair of the Long Pond Heritage Classic, will be hosting the Trophy and will be available for interviews between 5p.m.-8p.m. The Trophy is being displayed at the Beaver Tails kiosk at the Oval.

About the Calder Memorial Trophy
The Calder Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season and each individual voter ranks their top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system. Three finalists are named and the trophy is awarded at the NHL Awards ceremony after the playoffs. From 1936-37 until his death in 1943, Frank Calder, NHL President, bought a trophy each year to be given permanently to the outstanding rookie. After Calder’s death, the NHL presented the Calder Memorial Trophy in his memory and the trophy is to be kept in perpetuity.

To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. The player must not be older than 26 years before September 15 of the season in which he is eligible.

New song highlights Long Pond as the birthplace of hockey

The earliest documented evidence concerning the origins of ice hockey show that the first game of hockey was most likely played on Long Pond in Windsor, Nova Scotia in the early 1800’s. Parker’s song, “Hockey Was Invented By A Nova Scotian” tells the story of how Nova Scotians invented, developed and then shared their passion with the rest of Canada and the World.

The song, which can be heard on the longpondclassic.com website, is released just weeks before the puck drops at the Long Pond Heritage Classic, a celebrity-filled hockey fundraiser that will take place on Saturday February 11, 2012 at the birthplace of hockey, Long Pond, in Windsor Nova Scotia. Spectators get in free to the Long Pond heritage Classic. So far, sixty players of all abilities have signed up to take part in the Long Pond Classic, leaving about a dozen tickets left.  To learn more about the Long Pond Heritage Classic, or to register, please visit www.longpondclassic.com

Dave Parker was born and raised in Windsor, Nova Scotia where he learned to skate and play the wonderful game of hockey on the many ponds that surround this historic town. He left Windsor in the early 1980s to seek musical pursuits in Toronto and Montreal (Shuffle Demons, Jig’s Up!, Trio David Parker, Sax-o-Matic) Eventually he settled in Quebec City where he continues to perform, teach and compose music. He still plays hockey every Thursday night!

For more information on “Hockey Was Invented By A Nova Scotian” and/or Dave Parker, please visit his website: daveparkersax.com

Ex-NHLer Brian Propp sends well wishes to the LPHC

Brian Propp sends us a note sharing his fond memories of pond hockey and wishing us luck with the fundraising!

Hi, my name is Brian Propp. I played for 15 seasons in the NHL from 1979 until 1994, mostly with the Flyers, with a bit of time in Boston, and Minnesota before I finished up with Hartford. I played 1016 games and had 1004 points. I played 160 playoff games and had 64 goals and 84 assists for 148 points. I played in 5 Stanley Cup Finals and 5 All-Star games. I won the Canada Cup in 1987 and the Spengler Cup in 1992 with Team Canada.I grew up in Neudord, Saskatchewan, a town about the third the size of Windsor NS where you are now, and our winters were all about hockey. Playing on ponds, or homemade back yard rinks was what we lived for. I just played a 4 on 4 pond hockey tournament in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 4 years ago and my team was my brothers and sisters. We finished 2nd. When I heard about the Long Pond Heritage Classic, and the fundraising initiative that you are all a part of, I wanted to send you a quick message.

I would have loved to have been with you today and maybe in the future I can get out to Windsor NS to join you in your celebrations.

Have a great time, and as I said when I scored, “Guffaw!”
Brian Propp

www.brianpropp.com

Birthplace of Hockey launches Best Pond Hockey Story Contest

Attention all pond hockey players: we want your stories.

The organizers of the Long Pond Heritage Classic (LPHC), an historic hockey fundraiser that celebrates and preserves the origins of hockey, are launching a search for your best pond hockey stories.

The LPHC’s Best Pond Hockey Story Contest, launched today, invites participants to submit a well-told story of up to 500 words that details their best pond hockey experience ever.

“Playing hockey in the great outdoors is one of life’s great experiences,” says Long Pond Heritage Classic Chair Rob Frost. “We want to create an opportunity for players of all ages and abilities to share their experiences.”

Entrants will automatically be entered in a draw to win one of two Long Pond Heritage Classic Commemorative Hockey Sticks, signed by celebrity coaches, including AHL President and CEO David Andrews, and NHL greats Terry O’Reilly and Syl Apps Jr. Stories will also be published on the Long Pond Heritage Classic website, longpondclassic.com.

A panel of experienced hockey journalists including Rob Simpson, an author and reporter for Hockey News, NHL.com and the NHL Network, will review stories and pick a winner. The winner’s story will receive a Long Pond Heritage Prize Package valued at $500, and his or her story will be published in its entirety on the LPHC website.

The Town of Windsor, King’s Edgehill School, the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society and the Dill Family Farm are spearheading the Long Pond Heritage Classic, a celebrity-filled hockey fundraiser that will take place on February 11, 2012 at the birthplace of hockey, Long Pond, in Windsor Nova Scotia. Long Pond is held to be hockey’s original home ice; Canada’s first international best selling author Thomas Chandler Haliburton documents young boys playing “hurley” on the ice at Long Pond as far back as 1800.

Team and individual player tickets for the Classic, as well as schedules and event details are available on the website, longpondclassic.com

Money raised from the fundraiser will support the Windsor Hockey Heritage Museum.

For contest rules or to submit, visit www.longpondclassic.com/contest

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For more information, please contact:

Eleanor Beaton
Communications Director
Long Pond Heritage Classic
Eleanor@longpondclassic.com