Over the weekend, hockey-mentor Julien called me up and said we were heading to the ponds for some pick up hockey. Who was I to disagree? I grabbed my gear, including my Garmin watch, and met up with him at Ives Park in Tonawanda. To my surprise, this is a rather popular spot for some pick up hockey.
Essentially, Ives Park in the summer is a bunch of soccer fields, tennis courts and I believe a playground. In the winter, they take advantage of the natural bowl-like area the soccer fields are in. Water collects on the field and it freezes up. The town is nice enough to keep it plowed, though I remember recently a plow did crash through the ice . . . It ends up being a MASSIVE area to skate on. Some areas are obviously more smooth and skate-able than others. Some spots are thin, with grass poking through. Still, for being a free place to skate, it was awesome.
What I wasn't prepared for is the number of people who showed up to play. At one point, we had a full 3 on 3 tournament going with 5 teams. That was great, except it was pretty cold out and a long time between games. The limiting factor was nets and goaltenders, but hey, free is free. Overall, it was a fun, organic way of playing hockey on a Saturday afternoon. People of all skill levels, ages, and degree-of-try-hard-ness were able to have fun.
What a cool spot!