Whatever happened to …

… road hockey?

Thanks to Peter Cameron for this suggestion via the Whatever happened padlet.

I enjoy your Sunday “Whatever Happened to” posts. Have you ever done a Whatever Happened to street hockey. Back in the 70′ and 80’s when I was growing up in Thunder Bay street hockey was all the rage. Although I didn’t play organized hockey, it gave me the opportunity to play the game. When driving into my childhood neighbourhood to visit my parents yesterday, I saw a street hockey game happening. I think it’s the first one I’ve seen in 10 years. As we passed thekids yelled “car” and moved to the side of the road. It brought back so many memories😊

Peter’s memory moment brought back memories of my own.  You’ll notice that I called it “road hockey” above.  That’s what we called it.  Maybe because our roads weren’t paved when we started playing!

Organized hockey for us was “house league” and that took place on Saturday mornings.  If I remember correctly, we practiced for 20 minutes and then played a game.  It was “straight time” which meant that the three 10 minute period gave us exactly 10 minutes whether we were playing or not!  The last 10 minutes in the hour was a chance for the arena to clean and flood the ice.

But that didn’t mean we didn’t practice our skills.  During the winter, it was done on the street outside our houses.  What street we played on depended upon who we could get together to play.  If we played on our street, it was a challenge since we were on a bit of a hill.  So, halfway we “changed ends” so that everyone got a chance to attack going downhill!  If we played one street over, it was flatter and fairer to both teams.

Usually, the slowest kid had to play goal.  Our nets were either a pile of snow scooped up from the road or a big chunk that we got from the side of the road the last time the Zamboni, er, snow plough went by.  We’d step off the distance to make sure that the nets were the same size on either end of the playing area!  The top of the net was at shoulder height.  So, to score, you had to be between the piles of snow and the shoulders of your goalie.  (It always paid off to have a short goalie)

We used the same sticks that we played with on Saturday.  I have a recollection of a variety of “pucks” over the years.  I can remember playing with tennis balls, real pucks, and a sponge rubber puck.  Real pucks could be a killer because we didn’t wear any pads!  We didn’t use our hockey gloves either.  Our regular mittens did the trick except for the goalie who used a baseball glove as a trapper.

Being highly technical wasn’t a priority.  It was just a chance to play outside with friends.  We were ahead of the times too.  Typically girls figure skated at the arena but we enjoyed having them play road hockey with us.  The timer?  It was either the setting sun or a game would “go to 10” with the first team to score 5 meant that we changed ends.  At times, the game was suspended because of lunch or supper but we picked up after that.  Now that I write this, I find it kind of odd that we all had meals roughly at the same time.

As Peter notes, often we weren’t the only people using the road.  Keeping an eye out for traffic was the job of the two goalies and a shout of “CAR!” meant the game was paused and we headed for the benches, er, snowbanks.  For the most part, drivers were courteous.  It could be a different story when the police came by.  The Chief would go out of his way to drive over and flatten a goal post.  One of the other officers would occasionally stop and chat or join in and play a bit.  (Some of us had two hockey sticks and there was usually a few stuck in the snowbank by the side of the road)

How about you, kind reader?

  • Do you have memories of playing road or street hockey?
  • Did you have real nets and equipment or did you have to make do like we did?
  • Did you have any local rules to make playing a success?
  • How about today?  Do you see kids playing street hockey or do they go to the town’s fancy double and triple ice pads for games and practices?
  • Do you know what the term “rink rat” means?

Please take a moment to share your thoughts via comment.

Thanks, Peter, for the suggestion.  I hadn’t thought about this in quite some time.  Living on a concession road, any road hockey done here is on the driveway.

If you have an idea for a “Whatever happened to …” post, please leave it in the Padlet.

All of the articles in this series can be found here.

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12 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Hi Doug!

    Great to read this post – my nephew plays both ice and street hockey (or road hockey) too! I was so surprised upon arriving here in Switzerland to see how popular ice and street hockey are. There is even a street hockey championship with Swiss teams!

    Two years ago, the World Championship of Street Hockey took place for the first time in Zug. It was great! So many people came to watch. We went to all the matches that Greece, Canada and Switzerland played in. The funny thing is that one day, we were in the bleachers watching the Greek team train so we got talking with one of the players’ wives. She told us that the players are all Greek-Canadians (because street hockey is not popular in Greece, so there were no players actually coming from Greece), and that they flew all the way from Canada to represent Greece. We became friends and we still have contact today. Want to hear a coincidence? That player, with whose wife we started talking, turned out to be one of our distant cousins we had never met! Amazing, right? You can imagine the laughter – and tears.

    We will never forget this!

    Sorry I strayed off a bit there : )

    Have a great Sunday,
    Vicky

  2. Doug, while I never played street hockey, I see lots of active games of it on our street now. And I still hear the screams of “car.” I wonder if living on a small court with many kids around the same age, make a difference. It’s nice to know that even with all of the hockey arena games, street hockey still has a space in our lives. Thanks for another trip down memory lane. I’d love to hear about different people’s experiences.

    Avivats

  3. Vicky, thanks for sharing your memories. And, don’t worry about going off the path; it only makes the stories richer. When I think of Greece, I don’t think about hockey. I need to see if there were any there that played in the National Hockey League. And, I found one, who played just across the river. – https://www.answers.com/Q/How_many_Greek_players_in_the_NHL

    I’m delighted that you found a relative via your experience. It speaks volumes for saying hi to strangers and then finding out that they’re not strangers anymore!

  4. Aviva, you’re going to drive me crazy until I figure out what Avivats means. Given the fact that I’ll be talking to you in front of an audience in a few days, this might be a topic for discussion! I’m glad to see that road hockey is still live and doing well in your community. It would be an interesting activity to group source where games are held and plot them on a city map. I doubt that King Street would be on the map!

  5. I was a road hockey player! It was one of the big activities in my neighbourhood, particularly, as I remember it, on Sundays after church. We didn’t just play in the wintertime, though, we played fall through to spring, which meant that garbage cans were often used as goalposts in more temperate weather. Every porch or driveway had sticks in it, and there are actually some in my vestibule today, though they haven’t been used in a while. My neighbourhood has aged out of key, at least temporarily.

    I remember road hockey as an equalizer, because we all played – girls, boys, all ages, and all you had to have was a stick.

    One of the things that helped me be accepted by my students in the first small town I taught in was being willing to play road hockey. I walked to and from work, and if there was a driveway game happening, I would usually get an invitation, I could run to my apartment, change and grab my stick, and go run around until dark with my Grade 5’s. Great stress reliever!

  6. So Avivats actually means nothing. It’s just a typo I made when trying to sign my name to the comment. Oops! Guess I should proofread my name in addition to the comment. 🙂 As for “Aviva,” it means spring in Hebrew. My birthday is close to the start of spring. 🙂 Excited to chat with you in person in a few days.

    Aviva 🙂

  7. Wow cool, Doug! Thanks a lot! I knew Chris Chelios because my parents were going on and on about him ; ) – but not the other ones – awesome! All my cousins in Canada used to or still play hockey.

    Have a great Sunday!

  8. Lisa, I’m laughing out loud and I’m in a room by myself. Hopefully, nobody is listening. Actually, it’s just the dog and me at home right now. I just had a vision of you body checking one of your students and using that as a stress reliever!

    Your memories brought back another for me. We did, indeed, have our sticks just propped up outside the front door. There was never a thought that they might go missing!

  9. That comment made me think of a basketball game this past school year. Intermediate teams vs teachers. One of our Grade 8 girls was a very physical chippy player and was trying to use that fact to intimidate the teacher team. We figured out pretty quickly that we either had to have me or one other female teacher cover her, because we were willing to chip right back. She loved it, we loved it, and the light bruising up one side of my body was totally worth it!

  10. I grew up on a dirt road in a rural area, so the only road hockey I played was actually played on the Tarmac at school during lunch. It was a lot of fun though. I had an old broken wooden stick of my Dad’s to play with. The original mini sticks? I did play some pond hockey with my cousins on the farm. When we lost the puck in the snow bank one day, we substituted a frozen horse turd, but then no one wanted to play goal. The neighbourhood kids still play down the street and they still yell “car” and move the nets. Thanks for the memories!

  11. I am not sure I live in the same area as Peter’s parents, but my walking route includes one particular street that has a number of families with younger children. I enjoy seeing the groups of children out playing on/along that street through the seasons — not much traffic to worry about there. We only have a scant layer of snow at the moment, but I have already noticed hockey nets at 4 houses on that street propped at the end of the yards ready to roll…. 🙂

    I grew up on a dead end street … a very popular spot for a road game!

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