Who says there aren’t winners in outdoor hockey? (Part 1)
Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry to our Most Amazing Shinny Experience writing contest! We received some great pieces and today we present the two runners-up of the contest.
In this first selection, Stu Campana deals with that classic outdoor hockey dilemna: what do you do when you’re playing against someone who is just infintely better at the game than you are? Here is his blindingly brilliant answer.
The Blackness of the Ice: Patience and Pond Hockey
When you play hockey like I do, there’s really only so much impact an impediment like possessing no limbs, or, say, blindness, could have on your game. This is a reality I came to accept at a very early age.
My best friend, meanwhile, was puck-handling sorcerer, who went on to play Major Junior hockey. On the lake behind my house, he would carve rings around me so perfectly concentric I could’ve scooped them up and fashioned myself an ice necklace while I waited for global warming to slow the game pace.
I learned to be patient. All afternoon the puck would move away from me like the wrong end of a magnet, but I knew that sooner or later it would get dark. Very dark. If I were lucky the clouds would hide the moon. And then, at the point where an NHL game might have been cancelled for reasons of “it is so dark that time itself has become lost and disoriented”, I would strike.
Stumbling unswiftly into action, I’d swing my stick this way and that, connecting with ice, goalposts, friends, snowbanks and occasionally even the puck. Darkness—that great leveller—disadvantaged the skilled and smiled upon the joyfully uncoordinated.
In all the years since I have never been able to convince a full hockey team to play in the dark. And so it remains that midnight lake hockey is when I shine brightest.
In this second selection, John Dance finds perfect ice and leaps into a spontaneous “hockey orgy.”
Under the Bridge
About 15 years ago, some weeks after Ottawa’s Rideau Canal was closed to skaters and before the ticketing NCC police prevented you from going on the Skateway altogether, the surface refroze perfectly under the Queensway Bridge. I was biking to the YMCA for a morning swim but I saw somebody with a hockey stick on this spot of new ice… so I biked back home, got my skates and stick and joined in.
And then others spontaneously appeared—sort of as though they had been shinny-loving spores, always floating in the Canadian air, waiting for some piece of ice to magically appear. And we played. It was a bit of a hockey orgy (sort of group sex without the sex) … few of us knew anybody else but everybody just revelled in this perfect ice and the pleasure of sneaking in one last totally unexpected game of shinny before the strong spring sun gained height and rotted our rink of perfection.
Thanks to John and Stu for their great entries and to all those who submitted! The overall winner of the contest will be featured here tomorrow.