Saturday, December 18, 2010

Boot Hockey 101

The old Mead backyard rink. We had some great boards back then.
Origin: Mead Backyard Rink 1986
Equipment needed: Warm clothing that also acts as padding for big hits, hockey stick, gloves, bucket (helmet) and an orange ball

Rules:
  • Best played 3 on 3 with 2 nets, but you can also play 2 on 2 with one net and a ball clearing line.
  • Full contact, but no dirty stick work allowed
  • No goalies or closing your glove on the ball. You can slap the ball with your hand to get it out of the crease area and make saves.
  • Best played on a small sheet of ice or hard packed snow to dive around on
  • Games are up to 3, best of 7 series
  • It’s hockey but with boots on, pretty simple

My family started playing Boot Hockey back in 1986. I was 6 and the backyard ice rink was just getting started up. I was a brutal skater. Like really bad that my ankles would always be dragging on the ice. My younger brother Adam was already a lot better then me and would be skating and stick handling all over the rink. So I had a smart idea of playing with boots on instead of skates. We would use the boards to glide back and forth and be sliding all over the place. With my size advantage, I started to dominate him and that is how we both learned how to hit and to also take hits.

As we got older and more brothers were added to the mix, it was fun to have them play and also get them used to a physical style of hockey. Around the time I was 11, I had a mini Boot Hockey league going on with my friends who would come over after school to play. We would also have night games thanks to a huge flood light that lit up the backyard and Christmas lights that lined the fence.

Back then we would play 3 on 3 and everyone would wear helmets with a full cage because things would always get pretty dirty. At one end of the rink there was a huge white garage where a lot of the big hits happened (see photo above). Sometimes you would just get a running start from the soft snow near the drive away and fly across the ice to kill a guy against that garage. It was nicknamed the White Wall of Death.

This is also how we learned how to fight. With our hockey gloves on, we would punch the crap out of each other (yes, buckets and gloves). We would always be missing screws from our cages and have to replace or tighten them up before our real hockey games. I can only now picture what my mother thought when she looked outside and would see a full out brawl going on in her backyard. The rule was once a guy was knocked down the game started back up again.

The days of the old backyard rink have faded away, but we still get together for some boot hockey over at the nearby park a few times a year. We play on packed snow so we don’t blow out our knees when we fall over and no more helmets and fighting. The passion is still there, but the compete and skill level has dropped off. The odd big hit will happen or there will be a nice give and go goal where you end up sliding into the net. But it’s just a sneak peek of the past.

There is just something about playing hockey at night. It could be -15 out, but somehow you still feel warm. Even the smell of the ice and the sound of it cracking underneath you is something special. It just makes you feel young again, and at that time it’s the only thing you want to be doing. The only thing that's changed now is when the game is over we all have to head back home to ice our knees and get up for work the next day.

8 comments:

  1. I so want to nail Sean Avery into that white garage

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  2. I'm proud to say I've drank in that backyard on more than one occasion. :)

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  3. theres been a lot of blood on that ice. I remember running our old neighbor from behind into the fence.

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  4. How many times did we think that old white garage was coming down on top of one of us after a big hit? The whole damn thing would shake back and forth! She kept standing though winter after winter

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  5. This post would be better if there was a half-naked hot chick lying on the ice.

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  6. I would love to be playing some Boot Hockey tonight

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  7. I always loved night games on this rink. Good memories.

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  8. This is a piece of Canadian hockey history... man we had so much fun back in those days.. Great memories !!

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