City of Calgary has plans to add more rinks in 2016 to accommodate both players and parents

Like any young aspiring athlete, Greyson Perry has dedicated much of his eight short years to hockey.

Now a novice with the Blackfoot Hockey Association, he is steadily moving up in the world of competitive hockey.

However, Greyson’s mother Jennifer Perry admits that it’s not always smooth skating when it comes to practices and games.

“Sometimes there will be practices at 6:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, though we don’t necessarily go to those ones, there are families that do,” Perry said.

There is so much demand for ice times in the city that Greyson’s team doesn’t have a strict, constant schedule, forcing the family to pack up and trek to different parts of the city for each practice or game.

“We will get the schedule about one month in advance but never for the whole season,” said Perry, “Luckily, most of the time we went up somewhere with times in the southeast but never really in the same place twice.”

One of the major ice time issues arises with tournaments and how many teams have to look to rinks outside of Calgary to host such events.

“Last year we had a tournament in Red Deer, this year we have a tournament coming up that will be in Standard,” Perry explained. “Standard is a hour-and-half to two-hour drive plus. We aren’t going there to play Standard teams, we are going there to play other Calgary teams — it was the same with last time.”

In efforts to promote girls hockey, Quinn Perry’s ice times are a lot more stable and are given prime times in comparison to boys hockey. Photo Courtesy of Jennifer PerryHowever, Girls Hockey Canada has some great ice times at the moment according to Perry. Her youngest child, Quinn, started Timbit girls hockey this past fall.

The more consistent practice times and games are part of an effort to get more girls involved in hockey.

“It’s nice, every week at the same time at the same place, it’s a nice change,” said Perry.

Considering that since 2008 the City of Calgary has increased its arenas by around 16 rinks, including: South Fish Creek, Trico, Flames Community Arena, Max Bell, and Winsport, this shouldn’t be such a problem.

Craig Steinraths, from Calgary’s recreation department, said they follow a civic sport policy to determine ice times.

“[The policy] talks about sports in general and the benefits in general, but we are also in the middle of developing a sports field strategy that looks at allocation and those types of things,” Steinraths said. “From an ice time allocation perspective, again, we follow the principles of long-term athlete development — the right group at the right time for the right sport.”

Therefore, youth teams will have early ice times to help with their development, which is why many young players will have games in the early evening leaving the adult hockey teams to play at later times, sometimes even at 11 p.m.

Another draw on the hockey ice times is that the game is played year-round.

“There are so many different hockey schools and [the] expansion of the traditional hockey season, which was October to March, where you now have spring hockey and summer hockey which is all skill development so that whole industry has really expanded,” said Steinraths.

The City of Calgary has also upgraded skating facilities, including Father David Bauer Arena and the Village Square Arenas, plus a few others to help keep up with the demand.

Two more arenas are also planned for the Great Plains area in southeastern Calgary.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Jennifer Perry

vpizarro@cjournal.ca

The editor responsible for this article is Melanie Walsh, mwalsh@cjournal.ca