Ice breaker

Stowe Milhous

For years, students and players have been coming to Blackfriar Pond to skate during the winter months. Now, things may be changing.


On a frigid day during winter break, over a dozen kids were playing out on Blackfriar Pond. Skating, maneuvering, passing and scoring in a five-on-five game, junior Charlie Andress could be heard shouting every time his team scored.

But soon the fun all came to an end, when an all-black Ford Explorer pulled up to the pond. It was a policeman, and for the those playing hockey there, this was an unprecedented occurrence.

The policeman left, only to come back 15 minutes later to ask us the players to leave the pond.

“Skating on Blackfriar Pond was pretty cool because when we went out there it was just me, Charlie [Chuck] Andress, and Stowe,” junior Colin McDonnell said. “The pond was covered in about four inches of snow.”

However, this did not stop McDonnell and his friends.

“We ended up shoveling two thirds of the pond ourselves and had a sweet area to play on,” McDonnell said. “For the two and a half hours that we got to play there, it was a great pond hockey game.”

Living in Malvern, the winter weather can be unpredictable. Some days this winter have been in the single digits, while others have been in the high fifties. So, when there is a chance, many hockey enthusiasts like to take advantage.

“[The pond freeze] only comes around every couple times a winter, so when you do get it in, it’s a good time and you try to cherish that time,” junior Nolan Rogers said. “It’s a good way to get outside in the winter time and hang out with your buddies.”

The biggest question for any pond hockey player: “Is the ice safe to skate on?” There are varying methods to tell if an iced over pond is safe to skate on, but there are always some unknowns to be careful of.

“A pond is safe to skate on usually if you walk on it and you don’t fall in immediately you’re pretty safe,” Andress said only half-jokingly, followed by laughter from McDonnell and other pond players. “But usually we have a drill and you drill into the ice, and you need about three inches.”

Most pond hockey players know these major precautions: the ice is generally the weakest in the middle of the pond, stay off the ice if there is a slushy mixture, know how thick the ice is, know how deep the pond is, and worst scenario, have a plan if anyone falls in.

McDonnell took into account all of these precautions. He brought a drill and many wooden planks and brought these materials to the pond.

McDonnell did as follows: He drilled one hole at the edge of the ice, another halfway between the middle of the ice and the edge, and lastly one directly in the middle of the ice. Each hole he drilled was four inches deep, making for sufficient skating on the pond.

“The wooden planks were a precaution,” McDonnell said. “If someone were to fall through the ice, somebody else would put the planks underneath their feet, allowing even distribution of this person’s weight to walk over and save someone that fell in.”

Despite McDonnell’s safety precautions, they were still instructed to get off the pond.

“I understood [why we had to get off the ice],” Rogers said. “We were out in the open and the policeman saw that, and he didn’t know if we were Malvern students, or even allowed on there. He wasn’t mean about it or anything.”

While Rogers realized that it was necessary for them to get off the pond, sophomore Chris Civitella did not understand.

“I was shocked because we have never had policemen come to the pond before,” Civitella said. “We go there every winter, so I didn’t understand the big deal.”

Malvern hockey players hope to return to Blackfriar Pond next winter.

“I think we should be able to use it if we are using it properly,” McDonnell said.

Andress’s hopes were a bit more affirmative.

“I mean… I can tell you right now I’ll be on that pond in the near future,” Andress said.