Photo by Michael Caples/MiHockey

New documentary tells the story of Clark Park’s outdoor rink, hockey program

Photo by Michael Caples/MiHockey


By @StefanKubus –

DETROIT — Filmmaker and Marquette native Troy Anderson first heard about hockey at Clark Park from watching HBO’s 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic series that featured the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

In one episode of the series, the moment that caught Anderson’s eye, the HBO crew covered the press conference announcing the Red Wings and NHL were assisting Clark Park with a new Zamboni, boards and glass.

“I thought, ‘Wow, there’s an outdoor rink in Detroit,” Anderson said. “I’ve gotta check it out because I’m from Marquette. I grew up skating outside. There was a neighborhood rink outside my dad’s house, there was a pond outside my mom’s house, so I knew I just wanted to check it out from the moment I saw it on that show.”

When he moved to Detroit in 2014, Anderson started volunteering at Clark Park as a hockey coach. Right away, he knew he wanted to film a project there, though he wasn’t quite sure what kind.

Fast forward three years to Wednesday night. Anderson, and his partner Steven Stark, debuted his new mini-documentary in Detroit in front of Clark Park Coalition members, volunteers, friends and – to his surprise – his own mother made the trip down from Marquette. His film, which tells the rich history of Clark Park’s outdoor rink and hockey program, ultimately combined the two passions in his life: hockey and video production.

“The whole reason why I did this is the kids in southwest Detroit,” Anderson said. “Their only experience playing hockey – for most of them – is when it’s cold enough to skate at Clark Park. And there’s some really good hockey players, whom I’ve been able to coach the last couple years. I want them to be able to have the same experience I grew up having in Marquette playing travel hockey and being able to get different life experiences through the game. It’s a challenge for us at the Clark Park Coalition to get ice time in the fall and in the spring when the ice isn’t in, so hopefully something like this documentary will open up the work that the Clark Park Coalition does to a different audience. And hopefully move some people enough to contribute to the work that Clark Park Coalition is doing.”

The 34-minute film tells hockey stories from the early days of Clark Park and highlights many of the pioneers – from many different backgrounds – that kept the program going over the years.

The trailer for the documentary:

“I started rolling film at Clark Park probably the second time I went there for a practice,” Anderson said. “I knew I wanted to make something, I didn’t know exactly what. I actually ended up working for a year to help the park with fundraising and of course the last three years I’ve been constantly rolling footage. The more people that I met, the more the story, the history of the park, everyone was super welcoming and willing to have me around with my camera. And pretty much for three years, my camera was attached to my hip when I was down there.”

Clark Park hockey director Ryan McIlhiny said he ultimately hopes the film raises awareness of the positive impact Clark Park has on the community and brings in more funding and volunteers – especially after the rink saw sections of its boards upended by heavy winds for the second time in three years.

“Obviously, hockey being what it is, it’s an expensive sport,” McIlhiny said. “It’s gonna help with that problem to make sure we can keep going.

“It’s been a long time in the making, and I know Troy has been totally dedicated to it, just to see what he’s been able to do and I know his passion for hockey,” McIlhiny said. “It’s just something really special and there’s all these people here today, going down the list of everyone that’s been a part of it. A big theme throughout the whole thing is we’re a big family, and that’s what hockey is at the end of the day. It’s great and very happy to be a part of it.”

Anderson said he’s hoping to find others willing to host screening events in order to get the film out to more in the area.

“Right now, we’re exclusively going to be showing it at film festivals and private fundraiser screenings, so if anyone is interested in hosting a screening or if anyone has an idea of someone in their network that would be open to hosting a screening at their home, place of business, at a theater, we would love to collaborate with those people and can hopefully get this in front of as many people as possible and raise some money for Clark Park.

“Clark Park is the last outdoor ice rink in this city and it’s home to one or probably two hockey programs left in the city of Detroit. I think it’s important work so if we can expand the audience and maybe get some more people involved, either from a volunteer standpoint or from a donation standpoint, that would be great.”