Calgary Hockey Magazine Spring 2016

Page 14

The Magic of the

OUTDOOR RINK A Canadian Classic

[ By Jennifer Jeffrey ]

It could be a Bill Brownridge painting:

kids having fun on the ice, the sound of skates carving, sticks connecting with pucks, shots clanking off of boards. The big blue expanse of sky turning into orange-purple as the kids get carried away in their play. It’s vivid, joyful. This is the ODR (or the outdoor skating rink, for those unfamiliar with the lingo). In talking about his own childhood memories on the ice, Brownridge, the beloved Canadian hockey artist and author, said, "Here in each session of 'play' without elaborate organization, equipment or parental guidance, was life in a microcosm." The ODR has its own culture. Players go out with minimal equipment. They are there to enjoy hockey with their friends, organizing themselves with fun in mind, no commitment to a


league with scheduled games and practices. There are no fees, no rules, but there is etiquette. If you are there first and see others coming, they will be invited to play. Older players skate around younger skaters, who are not in the game. Players are mixed up, the young with the old, and the young ones get passed to. There’s no hitting. It’s all easy-going, a chance to hang out, practice moves like dangles and cellies, and to do it all in the fresh air. Kids can play amidst that beautiful prairie or foothills landscape until 10 p.m. or when the lights go out. Playing on an outdoor rink means no pressure. For some kids, it is the only hockey they will ever play. ODRs are great meeting spots. About as much energy, passion and hard work go into making and maintaining these rinks as the players themselves display.