3 new rinks put dent in Calgary ice shortage

Three new NHL-sized rinks have opened up at Canada Olympic Park and it's hoped they will provide some relief for the city's ice-time crunch.
Three new ice rinks opened up at Calgary's Canada Olympic Park on Wednesday. ((CBC))

Three new NHL-sized rinks opened at Canada Olympic Park on Wednesday.

It's hoped the rinks will help ease the crunch on ice time in the city.

Brendon Arnold, spokesman for WinSport Canada, said the ice would be available to everyone.

"These rinks will be used by pretty much every athlete or every kid that uses skates and a stick," said Arnold. "There's going to be Calgary Minor Hockey, ringette, sledge hockey and figure skating. One of our rinks is actually the only rink in Calgary that is outfitted for sledge hockey."

A recent city study said Calgary could easily use 12 new rinks to meet the demand.

Patty Ross-O'Donnell has two boys in hockey and hopes more rinks will mean better times on offer.

"Well, we've had a lot of 7 a.m. practices on Saturday and Sunday mornings," said Ross-O'Donnell. "You're using the alarm clock more on the weekend than during the week."

Hockey Calgary president Perry Cavanagh said the new sheets would relieve some pressure in the city, but only another eight to 10 sheets could address the late-night midget issue.

One of the biggest challenges with ice time scheduling in Calgary has to do with players aged 15 to 17, said Cavanagh.

Midget players aren't getting off the ice until late at night during the week, not getting home until the wee hours of the morning.

"And of course we expect them to get up and be model students the next day in class with their teachers," Cavanagh said.

The sheets will be open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. until midnight. Arnold said they're already pretty much booked solid.

There are currently about 60 sheets of ice in the Calgary area. Eight rinks have opened in the last four years, and another four are scheduled to open in 2011.