Outdoor Rink Project

Hockey Everywhere

Archive for the month “December, 2011”

North Bay, ON: Takeoff (you hoser)!

Our first day on the road! We left Ottawa early this morning and drove west in our minivan. We are determined to learn how to drive with confidence. Of course we are fully licensed, but this is unfortunately not enough to put us in the headspace needed for cross-country winter hauling. We worked on the little things: where to put ourselves in the lane, how to pass, how to use windshield wiper fluid effectively, or alternately, how to remove caked-on salt from our back windshield with our bare hands.

We landed in North Bay in the early afternoon. We were tipped off to the whereabouts of Northern Ontario’s “premiere outdoor hockey experience.” Mark was so excited to see it that he forgot to change into his boots and nearly froze his feet off in his driving sneakers.

But he says that it was worth it. Dan Rivet’s backyard rink is nearly regulation size, fully outfitted with floodlights, electronic scoreboard, zamboni and replica pro dressing room. Rivet, a businessman and North Bay native, says that he bought his house more than five years ago specifically to build the rink. Since he moved in, he has invested more than $100,000 in the rink: “I guess you can say that I’m a little bit of an extremist that way. Once I start something I just can’t stop. The fence went up, and then the lights… the lights were ten thousand alone. Boards were about twenty grand because they’re rounded. They’re four feet down into the cement.”

Rivet and his friends go to extreme lengths to get their rink operational as soon as possible. One winter, in anticipation of a sledge hockey tournament that was to be hosted on the rink, they shop-vacked nearly a foot of rain water out of the rink to get the surface frozen again. On another occasion, they operated the zamboni and various hoses for 48 hours straight without sleeping to prepare the ice.

Just a few days ago, after weeks of above-average temperatures, Rivet took advantage of the plummeting mercury and rented a water tanker truck, depositing a reported 2000 gallons onto the bare concrete.

current location: Sudbury, ON
current temperature: -25°C with windchill

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Ottawa, ON: Introduction to the Game

We’re going on a trip! An outdoor hockey trip! An outdoor hockey journalism trip!

My good friend Ryan and I are leaving tomorrow morning on a two-month, seven-province tour of outdoor hockey rinks from Saskatoon to Halifax. We’re going to be writing about the places we go and the hockey we play, the people we meet and the ditches we get stuck in.

We think that outdoor hockey rinks are amazing. Somehow appearing on the most frigid and inhospitable landscapes, they create spaces for speed, finesse and community. Outdoor hockey is different from its structured, indoor cousin; it is spontaneous, self-organizing and free. As Kidd and McFarlane wrote, it is “an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.”

We’re also going to be writing about how outdoor hockey and its culture relates to other important Canadian things: history, politics, the arts and the environment. We’re going to write about whatever we find out there on the rink.

Come along on the trip: our columns will be published each week in the Halifax Chronicle Herald (which we’ll link to here) but we’re going to save most of our best and most interesting stories, photos and interviews exclusively for this blog. We’re also going to have a sweet map of our travels, so you can monitor our progress and see what lakes we fall in.

So come back soon! And in the mean time, keep your stick on the ice.

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