Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Movie Review: Pond Hockey

Tonight, I want to offer up a review of one of the prizes that I will be posting in the HBIC Playoff Pool. Last year, I offered up a few DVDs that people happily snapped up, and I'm hoping this DVD is another one of those. Pond Hockey, produced by Northland Films and directed by Tommy Haines, follows several pond hockey players in their battle to claim the Golden Shovel in the very first US Pond Hockey Championship in Minneapolis, Minnesota. If you're a reader of this blog, you're aware that I took in the US Pond Hockey Championship this past January, so this film hit home in terms of its look at the game of pond hockey.

If there is one thing that every athlete in every sport has, it's a camaraderie the athletes share with one another in their sport. Pond hockey players are no different than any other athlete despite the majority of them being "weekend warriors". However, if there is one trait that pond hockey players show more than any other athlete I've ever seen, it's a passion for the game like no other.

The story of Pond Hockey follows two teams for the majority of the pong hockey portion of the film: Sofa King Lazy and Federal League All-Stars.

Jeff Sorem, a Minnesota-born hockey player, starred for Yale University in the NCAA before returning to Minnesota where he took to the outdoor rinks and ponds to hone his pond hockey skills. He leads the Federal League All-Stars into the first US Pond Hockey Tournament, and is featured up above in the Team USA jersey.

The men from Sofa King Lazy get equal time to discuss their hockey pasts, but all of them have a story. The best part about the movie is that all the men basically know one another, and have stories and tales about some of the other men in the movie. Again, the camaraderie is evident amongst teammates and opponents in the game, and it speaks volumes to the community of pond hockey.

What makes this documentary different, however, is how director Tommy Haines looks at the evolution of pond hockey, the game of hockey, and how important the unstructured pond game is to the overall sport of hockey. Interviews with notable hockey stars such as Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, Marian Gaborik, Neal Broten, and Tom Kurvers add to showing how important pond hockey or "backyard" hockey was in the development of these former and current NHL stars.

Brian Bonin, the Hobey Baker Award winner in 1996, has a particularly opinionated view about how outdoor, uncoached, unstructured hockey is more important than current indoor, structured team practices for young hockey players. Bonin comes off as almost angry that more kids aren't being encouraged to head out to their local outdoor rink to play so that they can develop skills and creativity that is normally stifled by coaches during scheduled practices. I, for one, feel that Bonin has a valid point when it comes to coaching children younger than ten years-old.

The movie is an excellent look at a sport that not many people have the benefit of being part of in terms of where they live. While the concept of pond hockey isn't lost on Canadians and Americans in the northern United States, Minnesotans live, eat, and breathe hockey, and pond hockey is a major component of that passion.

I am proud to offer up a copy of Pond Hockey as a prize for the 2010 HBIC Playoff Pool, and I really think this is one prize that will be cherished by the winner who selects it.

Overall, the movie gets "two thumbs up" from me. I really enjoyed the examination of the sport that Tommy Maines makes, and how in-depth he goes in terms of following some major players in the sport of pond hockey for a winter. It's a very comprehensive look at a sport that seems to have fallen to the wayside with all of the hockey options that players and parents have today. I especially was enthralled with the chatter that Maines had with several key backyard rink builders, most notably late author Jack Falla and ESPN reporter John Buccigross.

If you are a hockey fan, I certainly recommend spending the $20 on Pond Hockey. If you're in the HBIC Playoff Pool and you qualify for a prize, this is one that I would certainly recommend considering when making your choice. It's entertaining, it's educational, and it is a fabulous look at the sport and passion of pond hockey.

And, since only one person can win, the good people over at have the entire documentary posted on their website for you to watch. I'm not sure how many people have 79 minutes to spend in front of their computers, but, if you can make the time, I highly recommend it!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment: said...

I've gotta see that movie. I'm surprised there aren't more movies like it out there. After all, pond hockey is a great source of artistic inspiration!