By Hayley Pugh
These ice hockey players couldn’t believe their PUCK as they enjoyed a shootout on what must be the world’s most spectacular ice rink.
The players went head-to-head in the great outdoors and were surrounded by snow-capped mountains and starry skies, rather than the usual plastic chairs and TV screens.
The incredible shots were captured in Banff National Park by award-winning adventure photographer Paul Zizka.
The 40-year-old, who played ice hockey on frozen ponds and lakes as a child, said he had to wait for the perfect conditions for the shoot.
He said: “You need cold temperatures and either no snow, or winds that blow the snow off the surface of the ice to make for great skating.
“If you time it right, you can enjoy the most pristine, glass-like ice, which makes for the ultimate hockey rink.
“I played ice hockey extensively growing up in Eastern Canada, both on artificial rinks and on frozen ponds and lakes.
“Given the choice, though, I like to play on natural rinks, especially in environments with jaw-dropping scenery like that in the Canadian Rockies.
“I’ve always loved hockey, and skating in the mountains is like a dream come true.
“It just made sense to me to try to capture both in a photo series that showcases that magic.
“I love to show the playful side of the sport while also shooting in these incredible settings.
“The energy is so high on these nights. There’s a part of you that marvels at the idea of skating on a frozen lake, and then you look up and see the stars and mountains around you and it just takes your breath away.
“While some shots are set up, we’re always there to shoot some pucks around, especially when we’ve got the images we were hoping for.
“For the images themselves, there are technical considerations and exposure times to consider, so it requires the subjects to be a bit more staged.
“It’s also completely quiet, other than the sound of our skates on the ice and the odd childish, unbridled scream echoing off the peaks.”