Simply said, shinny is an informal kind of hockey game played on ice with no other rules or appointed positions with the exception of the goalie, and without protective gear. The only required components of a game of shinny, according to enthusiasts, are the ice skates and an icy surface on which to play. Because players are without protective equipment such as a helmet and pads, roofing/reefing, or hitting the puck so that it rises above the ice, is forbidden. Even with this rule, however, injuries for shinny players are largely just another part of the game experience.
In shinny, there are no nets, referees, or equipment involved. Shinny players usually bring their own skates, while the sticks, puck, and goal boundaries can be found objects. Sticks can be a broomstick or tree branch, as long as it is rigid and can be used for hitting the puck. The puck can be a tin can or piece of fruit or some sturdy object that can stand a beating. In the history of Canada, a special kind of makeshift puck used in shinny was frozen horse droppings, which were commonly referred to as road apples. A tin can is also frequently used, as after several games the shape will begin to resemble a real metal ball through repeated pummeling by sticks. The goal boundaries can be either naturally demarcated or makeshift.
Teams are initially formed in shinny when all players throw their sticks into a pile. A person is chosen to divide the sticks into two groups. Players then retrieve their own stick, and form a team with other players whose stick was in the same grouping. The two resulting groups become the opposing teams. A goalie is appointed from each team to secure the goal boundaries and prevent the other team from scoring points.
Shinny is fundamentally a Canadian term, but was originally derived from the Scottish word and game of "shinty," a type of field hockey. In true nationalistic form, shinny is offered at an ample number of recreational centers in Canada, and the game is inclusive of all age groups. In the United States, shinny is called scrimmage or pick-up hockey. Variants of shinny include street hockey, a version not played on ice, and ringette, a no-contact version.
Also in true Canadian fashion, there is special discourse related to shinny. The arena is often referred to as the "ice palace," a "deke" is a tricky defensive move designed to confuse the opposition, and a "tic-tac-toe play" is a series of coordinated moves executed by key players on a team in order to score a goal.