Canadian Pond Hockey at Its Best

Is there anything more quintessentially Canada than pond hockey?

I’ve heard it said that we aren’t truly Canadian unless we’ve strapped on some skates, grabbed a stick, and puck-handled our way across a frozen lake or pond. During any given winter day in this country, people of all ages are lacing up and stepping out onto frozen ponds and lakes to enjoy our nation’s greatest backyard pastime.

Sometimes, it can look like this:

Shooter and goalie face off against each other on the frozen ice of Lake Louise under the stars and surrounded by the mountains.
Shoot out. Canadian style. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

In the Rockies, lake skating usually has a short window. You need a quick freeze and clear skies so that the snow doesn’t fall and cover the ice. Usually, this occurs in late fall, but at times the wind blows strongly enough to clear the natural rinks of snow. I’ve enjoyed some incredible skating even in the month of February. Early in the season, you might see fish swimming below the ice as you skate above them!

But let’s go back to pond hockey. I grew up playing hockey, and it’s hard to shake the excitement of heading out on the ice, stick in hand, to shoot a few pucks around. Having the chance to capture pond hockey in a way that melds the majesty of the mountain with my own style of shooting is particularly gratifying as a photographer.

All photos by Paul Zizka Photography.

Some images are pre-visualized, such as the shoot-out at Lake Louise, and others are captured in the moment. But one of the best things about winter in these parts is that there is no shortage of lakes to photograph or skate on when conditions are prime. Besides Vermilion Lakes and Lake Louise, there is also a plethora of photographic (and skating!) opportunities at Minnewanka, Barrier, Two Jack, Kananaskis, Spray Lake, and Moraine Lake. If you’re looking for bubbles, you’re most likely to find them at Lake Minnewanka, Spray Lakes, and Abraham Lake.

If you’re interesed in the locations mentioned in this article, check out Paul Zizka’s Guide to Photography in the Canadian Rockies (Banff to Lake Louise Edition).

I also highly recommend checking out the lakes at night. There is something otherworldly and dreamy about gliding along the smooth surface of a lake in the quiet darkness of the evening. The cool air and the silence get the blood pumping and the creative juices flowing, which is a good thing because it can get chilly standing still for photos!

All photos by Paul Zizka Photography.

Who knows, maybe Santa will come by to get in on the action…

It also goes without saying: Be safe, and always test the ice before getting into it! Hope to see you out on the lakes this winter!

All of these images are available for purchase as Limited-Edition Prints in a variety of sizes and formats. Place a custom order here!