I’m feeling a bit nostalgic as I prepare to revisit the venue in which I managed to complete my career hat trick. To clarify, my youth hockey career in Anoka, MN consisted of three seasons in which I amassed a grand total of three goals; the third and final of which was netted in Elk River, MN.
Photo courtesy of Kyle Oen @ VintageMinnesotaHockey.com
It has been nearly 30 years but, to my rapidly-fading recollection, the old “Barn” in Elk River was quite possibly the most hideously-dilapidated indoor hockey facility I would set foot in until I was introduced to St Mary’s Point and Lily Lake. On the other hand, I may have blocked out many of the gory details which could only be unlocked via intense therapy or hypnosis.
The goals they used at the time—which appeared as if they pre-dated my existence—contained just enough paint residue on the posts to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they indeed were once red. The netting on each goal was nearly the same color as the puck and had nearly as many holes as Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott’s jeans.
Although the leaky roof‘s raindrops bore holes in the ice when outside temps went above freezing, at least it was dimly lit enough for the crevasse’s to not be a distraction. When cold outside, however, few rinks then and now could be considered colder.
As I conclude this from the arena parking lot less than an hour before my son’s B Bantam game against Eden Prairie (with a kid named Leddy on its roster by the way) I have a feeling I’ll find a much-improved Barn than I remember. But it won’t be long before my mind will be wistfully whisked back almost three decades to how it once looked at 6 am on a Saturday morning.
The Elk River community replaced the Barn as its primary ice sheet in 1997 with the construction of the adjacent “Olympic” rink. On one hand I hope my son’s team will remain in the winner’s bracket and play all of their games at Olympic. But a part of me wouldn’t mind seeing him play on a “classic” rink which I played on at the same age.
We’ll see what the weekend brings.