Since having its world premiere and winning the “Best of Fest” award this past April at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, the wonderfully entertaining sports documentary Pond Hockey has won fans across the country. On Wednesday the film returns for one last screening in the Twin Cities before its November release on DVD. The (mostly) locally-shot film depicts the U.S. Pond Hockey Championship, which takes place on Lake Calhoun. It follows some of the players in the tournament (including former Minnesota Gopher players Tyler Hirsch, Dave Spehar, and Matt Henderson) from the tournament’s beginning to its end.
Pond Hockey, screening at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 5 at the Oak Street Cinema, 309 Oak St. S.E., Minneapolis. For more information on the screening, see mnfilmarts.org. For more information on the film, see pondhockeymovie.com.
Director/producer Tommy Haines, who worked on the film for three years, says he’s pleased that the film has been so enthusiasticallly received. “I could not be happier with the responses we are getting from not only hockey fans, but also film fans at the different festivals. Winning the Audience Award at the Landlocked International Film Festival, in the middle of summer in Iowa City, is a good sign that the film has [appeal beyond] the hockey crowd.”
With a few screenings still scheduled out east, Haines hopes that the film receives the same kind of response which it did at its three sold-out shows in Minneapolis this summer and at its most recent screenings: last week at the Edina Cinema and in Eveleth (home of the Hockey Hall of Fame) and Roseau this past weekend.
“Minnesota is our home crowd, but in theaters across the country—with screenings upcoming in New York, Rhode Island, Boston, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, to name a few—we hope that we can get similarly positive reactions from those audiences.” There is one venue Haines hasn’t been able to secure. “It would be really cool to show the film on a frozen lake—maybe Lake of the Isles. I think that would be an amazing setting for the film and a perfect environment for the audience.”
Not only does Pond Hockey explore the experience of growing up a rink rat, within its brisk 82 minutes the film includes interviews with former and current National Hockey League players including Wayne Gretzky, last year’s MVP Sidney Crosby, Rick DiPietro, and Marion Gaborik—the all-time leading scorer of the Minnesota Wild. It also features great photos and footage of White Bear Lake native and former Mr. Hockey (best Minnesota high school hockey player) and Hobey Baker (best college hockey player) winner Brian Bonin, whose father Phil flooded their backyard to create a personal hockey rink. The film is a must-see for any hockey fan, young and old, but also anyone interested in experiencing the phenomenon of the pond hockey tournament, which will move this upcoming January from Lake Calhoun to Lake Nomokis.
Haines added that another sports documentary might be in his future, but he says that he achieved everything that he wanted to. “Documentaries are very organic creatures that are constantly changing, so you have to be extremely good at adapting as you go. It’s always tough living up to expectations you originally have for a project, but I am really proud of the end product. There’s not much I would change—except for maybe wearing thicker socks!”
Jim Brunzell III writes on film for the Daily Planet and hosts KFAI’s Movie Talk.