In the land of maple syrup, the double-double and Bob & Doug is there anything more Canadian than grabbing a shovel, skates, sticks and nets, and bundling up in all our gear to play a relaxed game of hockey on a frozen pond or backyard rink? Heck – even our $5 bill once depicted a picture of 4 children playing a game of shinny on a frozen pond. At one time, it was the rite of passage, a tradition held dear for every young Canadian during the cold, winter months. Most of us can think of at least one field, back yard rink, or frozen body of water that we had the chance to skate on at some point in our lives. This is where generations of young people learned to play hockey and where great memories are still being made. This is where we spent hours outdoors playing the game until our fingers and toes were frozen.
There’s this guy who grew up in Brantford, ON you may have heard of, and he always claimed he became the player he did right in his own backyard. There Wayne would stickhandle pucks around Javex bottles his father Walter would set up on an outdoor rink the five Gretzky kids all called “Wally’s Coliseum.” Walter was the CNPHC Honourary Coach for a few years and just loved the event because it was all about the hockey and the guys and gals who play it. There are backyard rink and frozen pond stories told every winter across this nation, many just as charming, even if the kids involved do not end up winning Olympic gold medals or Stanley Cups.