This is the story about old-time hockey. It's how hockey was played before the high salaries and the television contracts, the way many Canadians and some Americans played as kids. For the first time in history, the professional major league NHL season was canceled this year. But the game still lives in its purest form in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick.
In this game no one makes a salary. There's no league, and no referee.
“It gets you right back to where you used to put your skates over your stick and go down to the pond."
The boards are snow banks. There are four players to a team, and no goalie. It's a high scoring game.
It's cold. The ice is cracked. And anyone who ever played on a pond is sentimental about it.
"Pond hockey is special because you can't count on it. Every day you get a pond day is a gift."
"They don't come any better than this, folks. This is the world pond hockey's finest," says the announcer.
The World Pond Hockey Championships are played in the Canadian town of Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, just north of the U.S. state of Maine. This town of 1,200 has been described as being so deep in the woods they have to pump in the light. Half the town volunteers stage an event that has a cult following among die-hard players. Teams come from all over the United States, Canada, Great Britain and even the Cayman Islands, where there is no place to play hockey.
There's a lot of good hockey here, but the favorites are four ex-patriot Canadians called the Boston Danglers. These guys are good. Very good.
Spectators were frozen in place for the final game as the Boston Danglers dominated. Final score, 14 to 8 and the Danglers skated before the crowd hoisting a wooden replica of the famed Stanley Cup.
"It's not NHL hockey. It's just hockey." It's hockey the way it was meant to be.