A Monday Night at the Movies Folks Won’t Soon Forget

Cup'pa JoeIf nothing else I’ve learned this about our magnificent sport over the years: hockey enriches the lives of its players and fans, but the people in it actually have an uncanny ability to change lives. Mine got changed, again, on Monday night, in a small Northwest Washington movie theater filled with hockey lovers bearing witness to a cinematic labor of love by one of their own.

I’m reasonably confident that not every one of the nearly 150 patrons for ‘Pond Hockey’ at the Avalon last night was a puckhead, but I guarantee you every one of them left the theater believing that they’d learned something significant about the importance of unstructured recreation in the lives of children. And adults.

Leaving the theater wasn’t an easy task near 9:30 last night. On this school night we had a healthy number of under-12 youths who after the screening peppered ‘Pond Hockey’ filmmaker Andrew Sherburne with questions pertaining to the whereabouts of pond hockey tournaments for skaters their age. This movie apparently has that kind of effect on the young. It also has that kind of effect on more veteran skaters, like one for the GeriHatricks. After the movie my father rang me from his cell while en route home to Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

“It took me back 50 years, to those four- to six-week, especially cold spells in winter in Northern New Jersey when we could skate on ponds.”

“I found myself getting nostalgic,” Pops told me.

My old man was also nostalgic by virtue of his pre-movie dinner that included the company of one Miss Virginia 2008, Tara Wheeler. She arrived at the Avalon far earlier than expected and rang my cell wondering if I was looking to kill some time. Normally I don’t have my cell phone on when I’m out dining with family and friends, but Monday night I had movie logistics roles to oversee.

“Dad,” I said after finishing my phone chat with Tara, “mind if Miss Virginia joins us for a drink?”

Yeah, he owes me.  

A Bethesda schoolteacher after the screening asked us for a ‘Pond Hockey’ movie poster because he planned on using the film as a teaching moment in his classroom.

Pond Hockey Poster WinnerPeople in parkas and touques on this magnificently frosty Monday night milled about our screening theater more than 30 minutes after the end of our Q&A with our new hockey hero, Andrew Sherburne. I was struck by the number of Minnesotans in attendance. I met folks from Brooklyn Park and Edina and White Bear Lake. In fact, one of them, Wendy Suiter from White Bear Lake, won our Jose Theodore-signed touque. She was elated.

“I never win anything!” she exclaimed.

During the screening the filmmaker crouched up in the projection room and painstakingly fashioned scraps of paper with the theater’s rows and seat numbers etched on each one, accounting for all 160 seats, just so every attendee could have a crack at winning a Jose Theodore signed touque at movie’s end. The filmmaker himself did this. That’s hockey, as I’ve come to know it.  

I arrived back home with a DVD copy of ‘Pond Hockey’ in hand, a token of appreciation from Sherburne, and I knew I wanted to do two things with Monday’s rapidly dwindling hours: crack open a couple of bottles of beer with the DVD gracing my high-def screen and allow merely the movie’s menu screen and its mesmerizing postcard of Minnesota winter to bathe me in our sport’s essence.   

“I’ve never been unhappy at the [outdoor] rink,” author Jack Falla observes seconds before ‘Pond Hockey’s closing credits.

Neither have I.

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10 Responses to A Monday Night at the Movies Folks Won’t Soon Forget

  1. Chubbs says:

    I am jealous, plain and simple. Perhaps it’s because us Canucks can skate on frozen ponds for nearly four months a year that we fail to appreciate our inherent good fortune!
    Wish I wasn’t so far away — would have loved to have been able to sit in on that screening. Where might one score a copy of that Pond Hockey DVD?
    And Pucksandbooks, I once wrote a piece about pond hockey for one of our local papers… an ode to the great game all of us so cherish… my Canadian take on what it means to lace ’em up under the stars. Happy to email it over if you leave me an address.
    Cheers from one Nation’s Capital to another.
    Go Caps Go.

  2. pucksandbooks says:

    I would love to read your pond hockey article.
    Skate on over to pondhockeymovie.com to order the DVD. It’ll help keep you warm this winter.

  3. MulletMan says:

    Guess I now have a present to give myself…ordering when I get home tonight.
    Nice series of articles on this event also, sorry I couldn’t make it, but I was on the ice.

  4. Laurie says:

    We are screening this in Ann Arbor on Wednesday and are expecting a big crowd. Can’t wait!

  5. Akira says:

    My friend and I managed to squeeze into the back just a few minutes before it all started…and wow. I’m so glad we made the trip down.
    Just an amazing movie overall. Really inspiring. It got me wanting to get back to learning how to skate so I can play. Most I ever did as a kid was floor hockey (though there wasn’t a boy or girl out there who could best me in faceoffs).
    …actually, it made me sad to be a Caps fan in MD. If I wasn’t so attached to seeing them play, I might have started planning to move way up north. xD Curse you, Maryland, and your not coldness!

  6. Wendy says:

    Thanks again for a phenonmenal flick. I was truly inspired by your work. And, thanks for the touque! I will wear it with pride 😀

  7. Sherri says:

    It was a GREAT film and I can’t wait to show it to the rest of the Crew on our next bus trip. I expect they will all be ordering one as soon as they get home.

  8. Thanks for joining us everyone! And Wendy, I hope you like your touque-photo in the next post. 🙂

  9. Pingback: On Frozen Blog › A Forgotten Miracle Comes to Artistic Life

  10. Pingback: On Frozen Blog › It Is Pond Hockey Weather

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