I was first introduced to the game of ice hockey when I was 9 years old. Friends of my parents lived near enough to Lake Ontario to pull in the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s (CBC) Hockey Night in Canada games on Saturday nights. It did not take long for me to fall in love with the fast action sport. A couple of years later, my parents signed me up as a player in the Midstate Youth Hockey Association (MYHA) in Syracuse, New York.
For the next 15 years, winter meant it was time to lace up the skates and play hockey from November to April (no ice in the off season in our area back in the 1970′s). As I improved, I moved up from house leagues to traveling teams. My teams traveled all over New York state and the Province of Ontario, Canada. We played in Buffalo, Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, Albany, New York City and many rinks in between. It was a wonderful time filled with memories of my teammates and their parents. We were a traveling family for those winter months.
After my playing days, I watched NHL hockey on cable and went to a few Syracuse AHL games each season. I would stay up until early in the morning as Stanley Cup playoff games would enter 1, 2, 3 and even 4 overtime periods. Yes, I was a hockey fan(atic) as my family grew up. I know my daughters would shake their heads at me when my favorite team would be on TV and the world stopped until after the game was over.
Four years ago, after I got a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom lens, I started photographing my high school’s ice hockey games. During the first season, I meet the Sports editor for my local newspaper at one of the games and he asked me to send a few photos to him from each game I photographed. I got a kick out of seeing my photos published each week. Players and parents started asking me where they could see the photos online and buy some.
The Baldwinsville Bees players in the two photos above are Seniors this year and I have photographed their entire high school careers. They both are team captains this season and I have watched their skills blossom over the years and wish them well in their next life adventures.
As I told many of you last year, I was given an opportunity to photograph a professional hockey team, the Syracuse Crunch, a member of the American Hockey League (AHL) this season. The AHL is the farm system of the NHL. I was suddenly photographing players who will be the future stars I will see on TV.
It has been a huge challenge being a Syracuse Crunch photographer. I am just now getting comfortable with how each game is produced and what the Crunch want from me. I have found it fun and exciting getting to know the staff, players and the fans.
Winter continues to mean HOCKEY for me. I am still enjoying it today as much as I did watching my first games on a fuzzy TV screen all those years ago.
This is my contribution to my blog’s assignment on Winter and what it means to me.