1970 – The Hullar Brothers
Many Clinton families had the great tradition and privilege of skating on outdoor rinks, whether they were homemade or on frozen ponds We were very fortunate growing up in the Bristol Road/Norton Ave neighborhood. We had the advantage of geography and topography favorable to forming many small ponds. Bristol Road is on the downslope, near the base of a hill where many small streams and springs feed the ponds. We were also lucky to live near rambunctious boys who were determined to make these ponds ice rinks in the winter. The core pond hockey rats included sets of brothers: the Josephs (George, Dave and Greg), the Nicholsons (Dave and Steve), the Joneses (Peter and Patrick), the Hullars (John, Tom and Chris), Andy Heintz, Brian Krupper and many guests over the years.
When the cold winter set in, we would trudge up a long hill with pucks, sticks, skates, and shovels slung over our shoulders. Once at a pond (either Joseph’s or Wester’s) we would test the ice for safety and smoothness. After conditions were deemed favorable, we would walk side by side, making a “super” shovel to clean the ice. Finally, we could lace em up with freezing fingers, set up boots for goalposts and play until dusk. The hike back was down hill, which was a welcome relief. On the occasional clear, cold night, some of us would go back to the pond in the pitch dark with a flashlight, an ax and buckets to make new ice. Without the luxury of a garden hose or Zamboni, we had to chop holes in the ice, dip the buckets in and carefully pour the cold water across the pond surface trying to make a level surface for nature to freeze over night for the next days’ skate.
Those in the gang that played youth and high school hockey were truly blessed with the best coaches one could ask for in a small village. These dedicated coaches helped us learn the game and build the skills needed to be the best we could be. The extra time and efforts on the ponds, other rinks and the streets of Clinton helped us to practice those skills further for reinforcement.
There were all-stars, youth hockey champions, Section III champions and a few college players (Yale and Hamilton) that came from that small pocket of pond hockey grunts.
– The Hullar Brothers