Ask almost any NHL player for memories about what it was like to skate outside as a kid, and more often than not you'll hear a whimsical tale of childhood innocence and playing hockey until the sun went down or mom rang the dinner bell.
Ask that question to Rangers forward Brian Boyle
, who will be playing outside in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Philadelphia Flyers
on Jan. 2, and he'll tell a different story about playing on a pond in his backyard in Hingham, Mass.
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"I was like 4 or 5," Boyle said. "I remember seeing my dad fall into a pond. That was one of my scariest moments."
Boyle's father, Artie, was none the worse for wear. But that didn't make it any less traumatic for the extremely young Boyle.
"He's a big maniac," Boyle said of his dad. "We were playing hockey and he fell in. He was going to get a puck out by some brush and some trees. The ice was kind of thin and he fell in. I was so scared. I remember it now. I can picture it. He went into the house. He used to be a goalie. He changed all his gear, put on his goalie skates and came back out and played. My mother was horrified.
"We had a bunch of people there. My cousins lived out at the front of the street and we were at the very end of the street. We had some neighbors in. I had older brothers who played hockey so their buddies were out. We were just screwing around and he just fell.
"I remember it now. I can't remember yesterday, but I can remember that."
That wasn't the only colorful story Boyle had about his dad and playing pond hockey. When Boyle was older -- and larger -- the pair went outside one winter to see if it was time to play outside once again.
"One time we're going out to check the ice, and he's jumping on it," Boyle said. "He's like, 'I think we're good.' So I did this big leap and smashed the ice. There was a crack all the way down through the middle of the pond. I looked at him. He was like, 'Let's give it a few more days.' "
When Boyle's dad wasn't around, he and his friends didn't fare any better when it came to testing the freshly frozen ice.
"We had some fun memories," Boyle said. "I fell in halfway to my waist before. We were testing the ice and me and my buddies decided to throw our skates on, test it that way … stupid."
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