The Saratoga Frozen Springs Classic returns in February and it got me thinking about why I love pond hockey. As someone who grew up playing hockey, pond hockey always had a special place in the mythology of the sport. There is something authentic about lacing your skates up and playing with your friends outside in the bitter cold.

But why do I love it?

1. We're here because we love the game. Whenever I played pond hockey as a kid, it was because I had the chance to do it and I loved to do it. My parents didn't schedule it for me, I didn't even have a commitment to my team. It was just because I wanted to get out there and skate every single chance I had.

2. The outside. People think of hockey as a sport you play in the cold because you're usually inside a rink. The reality is, it's not all that cold in there, especially with all your equipment on.  Pond hockey brings you outside into the brisk air. It's refreshing, it feels great, and there is something different about seeing trees and sky instead of walls and hanging fluorescent lights.

3. The friends. Pond hockey is all about hanging out with your friends. Even if you're close friends with your teammates in an organized league, it's still different than getting out on the pond and playing with your buddies.

The Saratoga Frozen Springs Classic is coming on February 8-10, 2019 at Saratoga Spa State Park. Get all the information and sign up to play here.