On a mild winter afternoon Saturday, drivers and those taking walks near Mud Creek Park could probably make out the figure of a hockey player on the frozen water.
Eighteen year-old Brady Markovich, home from Trent University for the holidays, took to the stretch of ice in his neighbourhood that has become a favourite spot for folks to play hockey.
Dressed in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, Markovich said the creek froze over a couple days before Christmas.
This isn’t the first year he has taken advantage of the ice even though he only learned to skate a few years ago.
“Every Christmas, usually if there’s ice on the pond, we end up going,” said Markovich.
“This is probably the most ice I’ve seen – the most top quality ice. It’s a little bumpy here and there, but it’s pretty good,” he added.
On the busiest days, there have been up to five games happening simultaneously.
“It’s rare you don’t see someone on the pond,” said Markovich.
For anyone who thinks the cold might stop him from getting his skates on, Markovich says it’s not a factor.
“I don’t have many layers on, but once you get moving, it doesn’t matter.”
Even when he’s not joining in on a game of hockey and practicing shots on a net by himself, he says it’s still a lot of fun.
“It’s kind of peaceful when you’re out here alone. Even though there are cars driving by, you don’t notice them. Like today I’m out here alone and still having a blast.”
Joining Markovich later in the afternoon on the opposite end of the ice was former Chatham Maroons player Kevin MacDonald and a group of his friends.
The 19-year old hasn’t played on the team for a year and a half, but thought it would be a good opportunity to get together with his old high school friends for a game.
MacDonald has a long-standing history with the patch of ice.
“Since I was four, I’ve been coming out to this creek,” he said.
“I had a lot of good buddies that lived near me, so our parents would all get out. I started off just skating and then they introduced the puck and the stick,” he added.
The only audience the former hockey player and his friends get these days are people waving from their cars or the occasional cheer from bystanders.
Comparing the experience of playing in an arena and out on the creek, MacDonald says the creek wins.
“I think it’s more fun. It’s just a fun competition with friends and it’s colder – I like it better,” said MacDonald.
“No one is booing you from the stands,” he added with a laugh.