Hockey Game on Lower School Pond

Hockey as we know it was first played in the United States right here on Lower School Pond. It was imported from Canada in the 1880s when the Rev. James P. Conover (Master 1882-1915) visited Montreal. As he wrote in a letter, “I got sticks, pucks (wooden tubes covered with leather) and rules from Canada myself. We flooded the field just below the dam with a few inches of water so we had safe and early skating, and when it snowed we flooded over the snow…this worked beautifully till the ice got so thick it thawed out from the ground and floated, so we put teams on the pond…at first you may remember we marked the boundaries by beams laid on the ice…it must have been somewhere about 1885. Malcolm Gordon was another of the early hockey enthusiasts.” At first it had been an informal scrimmage on the ice, gradually settling into a more organized contest with eleven men to a side. In 1896 the Canadian version of the game, with seven men on each side, was adopted. That same year the school team played for the first time on the fabled St. Nicholas rink in New York against a group of alumni. The alumni won 3-1. But the encounter was a spectacular event, and the school was off upon a long career of hockey playing, which was to make it known in the sports world and to fill many of the places on the top college teams with skaters trained upon the Millville ice.

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