Saturday, April 20, 2013

Reliving My Hockey Years, Through a Long Lens

Dan Farley, coach of the Ontonagon Midget BB ice hockey team, talks with players during intermission of a game at the state tournament in Negaunee, Mich. on Feb. 28, 2013. "You guys need to step up," Farley said. "Be leaders out there."

Ontonagon right wing Travis Houtari is pulled away from the Fraser Titans goalie on March 1, 2013 during a state tournament game in Negaunee, Mich.

When I went home for spring break, I stopped in Negaunee, Mich. in Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a state hockey tournament that my hometown's team played in. Five years ago, it was the arena where I played my last hockey game in 2008, on the same team.

I rented a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 for break. Hockey games are a great way to use the lens. I was guaranteed three games to shoot and I didn't have to worry about credentials or limited photographers' space. Free reign, for a photographer, is hog heaven.

I drove from Mount Pleasant and arrived in Negaunee in time for Ontonagon's first game. After staring out my windshield all day, it was great to see friends. And hockey. I stayed in nearby Marquette with a friend, and then spent a night at a hotel with my grandfather, Stan, and my sister, Audrey.

Following hockey through a long lens, however, is difficult. Try following a hockey game with one eye through binoculars. You get the picture. The work of shooting hockey is not following the game, it's framing the game in the image, and anticipating where the game is going on the ice. I played hockey for 12 years, but my knowledge of the game did not make anticipating with a camera any easier. It's much easier to anticipate as a player than photographer.

Still, I hoped to see them win.

Westland celebrates a goal against Ontonagon on March 1, 2013 during the state hockey tournament in Negaunee, Mich.

Last year, Ontonagon competed for a state championship in Alpena, Mich. The team, more or less consisting of the same players as the year before, had another chance to win. Unfortunately for them, they lost. Their story ended the same as mine: Their last game together as a team was in Negaunee.

Ontonagon defenseman Jeff Pestka before a face-off against Westland on March 1, 2013 in Negaunee, Mich. during a state tournament game.

Fans watch Ontonagon play Blue Water Sting in their first game of the state tournament in Negaunee, Mich. on Feb. 28, 2013.

Dylan Morris of Ontonagon fends off a Westland player during a state tournament game in Negaunee, Mich. on March 1, 2013.

Dylan Morris, left, and Drew Pollard sit dejected after losing a state tournament game 8-2 against Westland in Negaunee, Mich. The loss eliminated Ontonagon from the tournament, making it the last-ever game together as a team.

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