As the goaltender for the New York Rangers, Mike Richter played ice hockey in Madison Square Garden. But some of his favorite memories of the sport came from small ponds near his childhood home — with just a tin can or a piece of bark for a puck.

PhotoRichter: “In Philadelphia where I grew up, there were frozen ponds. There were reservoirs, there were little holding areas that we’d sneak over the chain link fence and have hockey games, and you could count on a couple times a year of having that long freeze with enough ice to make it safe to play. You’d play as long as there was daylight, and even into the dark sometimes.”

But Richter says these pick-up games are history in many areas.

Richter: “The freeze-thaw cycle has changed, and ponds are freezing later and melting earlier. The consistent cold isn’t there as much as it once was, so the game, the roots of the game, are really at risk.”

As a result, Richter fears the democracy of the sport is threatened…

Richter: “When you start needing artificial ice that you now do, young kids have to pay a lot more money, so it changes the economics of the sport, and really prevents a lot of kids from getting involved.”

For Richter, it’s motivated him to advocate for more action on climate change.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Copyright protected.

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Former US hockey player Mike Richter: climate change threatens winter games

Topics: Snow & Ice