There are many unwritten rules in the sport of pond hockey. Perhaps one of the most important rules is that pond hockey doesn’t exclude anybody.
All are welcome
Hockey on the pond (lake, backyard rink, or wherever you choose to play) invites players of all backgrounds, experience levels, and age groups to enjoy their time on the ice. You don’t have to be a hockey player or know how to skate! Whether you're new to skating or already have experience on the ice, there's room for everyone to join a game of pond hockey.
No equipment? No problem
Beyond the unwritten rules of inclusivity, pond hockey also helps make hockey more accessible for all. Unlike a typical structured ice hockey game, players don't need fancy equipment or coaches to feel like they are part of the game. Players can use almost anything to create a goal; a boot or shoe, backpack, or even a water bottle will do the trick. From the moment you step on the ice, there is nothing but fun in store!
Inclusivity beyond the pond
The National Hockey League (NHL) has integrated its motto for inclusivity called Hockey is for Everyone. This imitative use of the NHL’s influence worldwide encourages inclusivity. It reads:
“We support any teammate, coach, or fan who brings heart, energy, and passion to the rink. We believe all hockey programs - from professionals to youth organizations - should provide a safe, positive, and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity or expression, disability, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.”
Get out and play!
No matter who you are or your experience on the ice, you can get out in your community and get involved in pond hockey! Annually, SportsEngine sponsors U.S. Pond Hockey Championships (USPHC) Youth Night on the Pond, where more than 60 teams play pick-up games on Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The SportsEngine team took to the ice for the 18th annual tournament to get closer to the action and chat with youth participants and families at the event. Many of the younger athletes were experiencing actual pond hockey for the first time, a new experience from the perfectly smooth indoor rinks to which they are accustomed.
"What's with the net!" one player exclaimed as she arrived at her team's rink. "Tonight, you're playing pond hockey, and this is a type of goal used when you play outside on a lake," her coach replied. The pond hockey teams slowly migrated from the warming tent to the ice. Before long, the frozen lake was filled with youth hockey teams, coaches, families, and friends.
The scene of youth night was picture-perfect. The temperature was a balmy 30. The sun had just set as the lights flickered on to illuminate the ice. Snow had been gently falling all day, and the USPHC team was hard at work clearing the ice to prepare for the games. The sound of skates, pucks, and sticks echoed in the air as the teams took to the ice to begin warming up.
You could feel the excitement in the air when the games got going. The magic of pond hockey is something special. "Hockey. The way nature intended." as proclaimed by the USPHC, a sport for everyone and a magical experience for anyone willing to pick up a stick and join a team.