Friday, January 27, 2012

hockey dreams in my hometown

If you think that you are a Canadian, then my boy I will show you I am a Canadian too- if they check me from behind I will get up, if they kick and slash I will get up.  
If we play three against five for fifteen minutes I will get up.  
I too am a Canadian.  
They will not take this away from me.
David Adams Richards, Hockey Dreams

Growing up on Grand Manan, we used to skate on whatever patch of ice we could find. Winters are mild on the island so when it was cold enough that a small accumulation of water in my neighbour's field froze it was cause for celebration.  Looking back I think my "skating pond" was maybe 10 feet by 10 feet.   If we were lucky and the stars aligned and the ponds froze,  you had to navigate bumpy surfaces, branches frozen in the surface of the ice and the occasional muskrat. (As an aside: I developed a skating style that compensated for these imperfections so that when I finally hit slick, Zambonied ice for the first time at Acadia, I couldn’t actually stay on my feet for longer than 20 seconds.)  For as long as I or anyone else can remember, we talked about it all the time but having a hockey rink on the island seemed like the impossible dream.

The ritual that seemed to be playing out in every other small town in Canada parents and kids flocking to the rink in the wee hours of the mornings eluded us. Once again our island life had seemingly cut us off from the shared experiences of ‘the mainland.’ So last weekend as I watched the Grand Manan Islanders skate out to centre ice, as I watched my cousins' daughters take to the ice proudly sporting their Islanders jerseys, I'll admit it was emotional watching my hometown finally live out their hockey dreams.

In November Mars Canada made a significant investment in the island rink and they made this documentary.  It's a great look not only at our hockey story but a great introduction to my very special hometown.


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