Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

March 6, 2014

VALLEY: The history of hockey - as I knew it

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I was watching an outdoor hockey game on TV the other day. On Soldier Field in Chicago, the Blackhawks were playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was an afternoon affair and the wind chill was hovering close to “Holy crap, this is absolutely ridiculous!” Not to mention it was snowing.

Ahhh, the memories! That’s the type of hockey I grew up with in Ogdensburg. More precisely, that’s the way we played it. (The ‘Burg is in northern New York on the mighty St. Lawrence River/Canadian border.)

What caught my eye, while watching the game, was the way the puck traveled on the rink after the snow had settled. It plowed through the accumulation, revealing its path like a jet stream on ice. It would then come to an abrupt halt, defying the expected law of physics and motion.

That was the same way it happened in our backyard rink on Patterson Street.

In retrospect, our group of regular ice warriors were an eclectic bunch. That coalition included: Calkie (Robbie Calcaterra), Pinky (Jim Pinkerton), Reggie (Baker), Gordie (Douglas), the Seymours (Paul, Joe and Mike) and the Sherman brothers (Bill and Dick). All were neighborhood friends who, along with my brother, Tim, and I, formed a nucleus of diehard-kids determined to go out and play hockey ... regardless of the weather. The common denominator was having fun.

The time was the latter part of the ‘50’s to mid ‘60’s. And while we were on the rink — that WE made — we got to make our own rules. We made them flexible enough to enjoy ourselves. After all, wasn’t that the goal?

There were no grownups sternly correcting us for not following the canon of hockey regulations or because we had neglected a basic concept of what (they thought) we “should” be doing. We were just out there having the times of our lives. Kids being kids without the stress of being told what and how to play. That’s what “play” is all about.

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