Ola, compadres. This is the second part of my summer of rinks, or the rinks of my summer. You can do the same, just stop at the rinks around you and see what they are like. Especially if you are a hockey fan without a local team, there might be a local rink you’ve never been aware of. Search them out. They are beautiful places.
When we left off, I had just gotten to Calgary.
OK, come on. You guys are freaking me out with this stuff.
Edmonton had the Oilers rookie camp, and Calgary did not disappoint either, with Hockey Canada hosting the World Juniors Showcase Camp. Last time we were in Calgary, Hockey Canada was near the Calgary Stampeders stadium. The facility was adequate, but we were surprised at how shabbily it compared to the stature of hockey in Canada.
Since then, they have relocated to a new facility in the Olympic park. And it is not shabby.
Those box seats are pretty impressive.
And it has a bar, of course.
There were a few other rinks in the facility, hosting summer rec league games, but this is the Olympic park, so the building isn’t exclusively for hockey. It also features a bobsled training area.
The fields around Calgary were a wealth of images for me, and as per the hockey lore of Canada, the small towns scattered around the larger ones had their hockey rinks.
First is Black Diamond, AB.
Not much to look at, but go out back, and that’s where the real fun is.
That’s a full-sized rink on the left and a smaller rink on the right. Just waiting for the weather to get colder.
To the north of Black Diamond is De Winton, AB, hardly an exit ramp on the highway, but they have a rink.
One of the great things about hockey is that it has history everywhere. It may not matter to the hockey world at large, it might not make it outside the borders of a town, but it can still have an impact.
You can see more photos of this rink here.
To the south of Calgary is Vulcan, AB. They have capitalized on their name and branded the town as a Star Trek destination. And that means nearly everything.
Na-nu na-nu indeed. (I’m kidding!)
Right before you get to Vulcan is Blackie. I was on my way out of town, and the smoke from the wildfires in the Northwest of the United States was blowing through Alberta. Hence the sky being the way it is.
Most importantly, they keep the grill covered and handy.
Leaving Canada, I drove by the city of Warner, which has a hockey school important enough to garner it’s own highway sign. I had to stop. Head though town, which won’t take you long, and you will find it.
Gravel roads leading to the local rink and a gravel parking lot make me want to be here in December on a Saturday night.
And yes, Warner also sports its own curling club and facility.
Much like the best camera being the one you have, the best ice rink is the one you get to skate at. Some people have to wait a little longer. Like the people of Sheridan, WY.
Casper, WY, however, is ready.
Home of the WSHL Casper Coyotes.
And then down to Cheyenne, WY.
Home of the WSHL Cheyenne Stampede.
The last stop on this little barnstorming tour is Gunnison, CO. I didn’t know they had a rink up there. But they do.
This wasn’t what got my attention. This was.
An outdoor ice sheet. Complete with its own locker rooms.
That’s all I have for you. For now. There will be a lot more rinks and a lot more games this season. I hope to make it up to Wisconsin for some more GLHL games (the last one was a blast), I have some AHL and ECHL games on the agenda as well as WSHL, and maybe even a few NHL games to go to.
I also want to do a rec hockey tour of Colorado, or at least the Denver area and some of my favorite rinks around there.
After a few responses and putting some thought into it, I’m keeping all the travel posts right here. The new design of the blog, while lacking in a search box (I’m working on it) is nice for the photos, so let’s keep it going.
Thanks for coming along for the ride. Let’s see some hockey.