What is pond hockey? (Answered!)

Pond Hockey is an amazing form of the game that has been around since the early 1900s. At least. There are some archeologists who believe Viking explorers played some form of ice hockey all the way back in the 1300s.

But what is pond hockey? Pond Hockey is a simplified form of hockey that is played on frozen ponds, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water. It requires less equipment and has different rules than regular ice hockey.

There is debate over whether flooding and making an ice surface on an open field is considered real pond hockey, some seem to think it is, and pond purists will say otherwise.

Unwritten rules of pond hockey

what is pond hockey

The rules of normal ice hockey are not the same on a pond. In fact, if you aren’t playing in an official pond league or tournament, there are really no rules.

However, there are a few unwritten rules when it comes to pond hockey.

If you haven’t ever found yourself out on the pond, it’s understandable for you to have never heard of these rules, but be sure to remember them!

1. Don’t be a posts hero

If you’re playing posts (posts is a common pond hockey game played when there is no goalie around. The object is to score by shooting the puck off of the posts) don’t shoot unless you’re really close to the net. There is no need to take slappers from the blueline and risk someone getting injured.

2. Control your stick

Keep control of your stick. It may be one of the most commonly broken rules.

Players typically only wear skates and gloves and very little padding when playing on the pond, so little stick taps on their wrists or legs that would normally be harmless in a real game can leave serious bruises.

3. Don’t steal pucks

Leave the pond with the same amount of pucks as you brought with you.

If you didn’t bring any pucks, you shouldn’t be leaving with other peoples pucks. That’s not cool.

If you accidentally lose a puck in the snow banks surrounding the pond, your puck is gone, this doesn’t mean you can leave with someone else’s puck. Don’t be a puck thief!

4. Don’t take shots till the net is clear

If you skate up to the net and are about to take a shot, but see someone digging their pucks out of the net, don’t take the shot!

There are very few fouls on the pond more severe than this, if you’ve ever been hit by a puck you know why.

Always make sure the net is empty before firing a slapper top cheese.

5. Be nice to others

Not everyone on the ice is going to be the same skill level as you, there is bound to be a few benders and that’s okay! It’s a community space, and you need to be respectful of everyone that’s making use of it.

It can be frustrating at times, but just remember, you were once that bender.

When I was first getting into hockey I wasn’t very good, the guys on my local pond were super friendly and gave me encouragement and even some pointers rather than making fun of me and that went a long way, I always felt really good about myself leaving the pond.

6. Don’t be a puck hog

No one likes a puck hog. We get it, you’re really good at the game and can do a lot of cool things with it.

Don’t try and dangle through everyone on the ice, make some passes. You’re not the only one out there on the ice.

7. Sticks in the middle

This is a long-standing rule of the pond.

When you have enough people to create teams, everyone throws their sticks into a pile, and they are separated into two groups. It’s the only way to ensure fair teams and avoid all the best players teaming up with each other against people not as good as them.

Set a score limit for games and once that score is reached, throw your sticks back in the middle and get back to playing.

8. Have fun

This game is supposed to be fun, especially pond hockey. Don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t try your hardest at all times.

There are no scouts at pond games, you can relax.

Go out and have some fun, that’s what everyone else is there to do. Don’t be going all out and making it less fun for others.

What do you need for pond hockey?

Pond hockey isn’t like regular ice hockey, you don’t need all the extra gear and bulky padding.

To play pond hockey all you need is a pair of skates, a stick, some gloves and a helmet. In some places, helmets are optional. It’s a good idea to bring some pucks, extra stick tape and even chapstick as your lips can get pretty chapped when playing outdoors.

Oh, and don’t forget the beer. (If you’re old enough)

If you’re playing pond hockey, that typically means It’s cold outside, so you should dress appropriately. Layer up.

Long-johns are great and will keep your legs nice and toasty, you should also bring some extra socks in your bag because they are bound to get wet when stepping through snow to find loss pucks etc.

This is the clothing I typically wear when playing pond hockey (keep in mind It’s usually around 15°F to -4°F where I’m at):

  • Long-Johns
  • Sweatpants
  • Wool socks
  • T-shirt
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Hoodie
  • Hockey Jersey
  • Beanie

Does pond hockey ruin your skates?

Sometimes after a long session on the pond, you will start to notice some knicks in your blades and that your edges aren’t as sharp.

Does pond hockey ruin your skates? No. Pond hockey will not ruin your skates, however it can ruin your edges due to the bumpy and uneven nature of frozen ponds.

It’s not a huge deal, next time you go to get your hockey skates sharpened, just mention to them that you have been playing pond hockey and have a few knicks you need taken care of and they will get it done for you.

Keep in mind, you should always get your blades sharpened between skating on the pond and skating on the regular ice surface at your local arena.

Saying that, it’s pretty good practice to save an old pair of skates once you upgrade to a new pair.

This way, you can use your old skates for the harsher ice conditions of pond hockey and won’t have to worry about your edges being ruined on your new pair of skates.

How do you know if a pond is safe to skate on?

It’s that time of year again, and you’re champing at the bit to get on a fresh sheet of pond ice and get your pond hockey season going. But how do you know if a pond is safe to skate on or not?

A pond is safe to skate on when there is a minimum 4 inches of ice over the entire area you will be skating over. Anything less and you are risking falling through the ice. You can test the thickness of pond ice using a cordless drill and a drill bit that is at least 4 inches long.

This information comes right from the department of natural resources.

Never guess. Always make sure you know the true thickness of the ice you plan to skate on, that goes for ponds, lakes, rivers etc.

A general rule of thumb is bigger bodies of water take longer to freeze over and tend to freeze from the shore out.

So, just because the ice may be 4 inches thick near the shore, that doesn’t mean it will be the same thickness out further on the ice.

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What’s up! I’m Shayne, and I’ve been immersed in the world of winter sports since before I could walk. My dad was a hockey player who had a passion for snowmobiling, which he passed down to me, and my mom was a figure skater who loved to take us on snowboarding and skiing trips as kids. Safe to say, I’ve learned so much about most winter sports over the years and have a passion for passing on my knowledge to others, as my parents did with me.