Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dispatch from the Sussex Corner Winter Carnival

I submitted this as a column in the Feb 21, 2012 Kings County Record.  I wrote it the evening of my deadline because I really wanted to get word out about the Sussex Corner Winter Carnival.  Since writing the piece, the Carnival has ended with a joyful bang and honking horns.  I will provide more on that in a follow up blog.  Enjoy.
During the Corner Cup Hockey Tournament play was, at times, humorously impacted by ice conditions.
The first night of the 4th Annual Corner Cup has just wrapped up.  The outdoor ice was slow and choppy but the cool night air was great for the occasion.  The players cursed the ice when it worked against them while everyone else laughed politely knowing that the next time it would very likely be them who fell over or missed the break away.  As we tidied up the ice for the night the coyotes yipped off towards the Bluff and I started thinking about the trek I will be taking out there tomorrow night.
Back to the hockey though, after all it was pure Canadiana around Sullivan Park tonight.  From the Tim Horton's coffee steaming in cold hands to the red maple leaf design toques being worn by the team calling them selves the Isotopes.  The St. John's Ambulance volunteers were there and so were a few true hockey fans.  Straw bales, lawn chairs, snow banks and the odd cooler provided the seating for players and fans alike.
The hockey was competitive but relaxed.  Players quickly realized that, with the poor ice conditions, it was better to play with control than with reckless, competitive abandon.  Young kids played on the snow banks around the ice surface while young and not so young men played like kids on the ice. 
Worth playing for.
The ice didn't only impact the pace of the play but it also impacted the players.  Simply to skate on the ice tonight required twice the effort it would if you were skating at the 8th Hussars Arena.  The snow and the bumps forced you to keep more weight on your feet and thus you couldn't glide like you would on artificial ice.  Many times the puck jumped and hit players in the shins or they would trip on one of the many ruts and no doubt they left with bruised elbows and knees.  When they fell though they quickly got back up and at that moment you could see their true competitive nature flash in their eyes.  You could see they were proudly Canadian and hockey was their game.
Likely the most interesting aspect of having a chipped and rutted ice surface was the manner in which it evened out the play.  Those that could normally stick handle in a phone booth, tonight, had to learn all over while, those who usually struggled to push the puck ahead of them, were still simply struggling.  
As one of the organizers of this event it was great to see the players having fun.  Being outside during the winter and taking advantage of one of its great offerings.  I'm excited for tomorrow evening and all the events planned for Saturday.  I hope I get to see you there and I hope you get to enjoy our great Canadian outdoors.  If you didn't make the Sussex Corner Winter Carnival then I hope you are out somewhere else building snowmen, digging quinzees, throwing snowballs, snowshoeing across a scenic ridge, or sliding down a great hill.  Don't just think about it.  Take your family and do it, my son and I tonight stayed out well past not only his bedtime but mine too and it was so fun. 
See you on the ice or in the woods.

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