It's Canada's game. From late nights under the lights at the outdoor rink to our very own Calgary Flames, we love hockey. When families are house-hunting in Calgary, knowing where the local rink is and knowing how to connect with minor hockey associations can be just as important as how many square feet a potential home might have. Not to mention where to dry out equipment and store the hockey bag during the off-season.
Here are some great Calgary communities for your consideration.
With our Calgary chinooks, keeping good outdoor ice can be tough. Generally outdoor rinks are constructed and maintained by the local community association. Flooding can occur as soon as temperatures are consistently hovering below freezing especially at night. This year we've experienced unseasonably warmer temperatures but December to March is a good target for quality outdoor ice. Some of Calgary's best outdoor rinks are in:
Haysboro: Located on 89 Ave SW and Elbow Drive, there are two outdoor rinks carefully flooded and scraped by passionate community volunteers. The outdoor lights are reliable and set on auto-timers until at least midnight so the sound of pucks hitting the fibreglass boards can be heard well into the night. The City of Calgary operates learn-to-skate lessons beginning in January every year and Calgary's Grassroots Hockey League, which operates a non-competitive outdoor league, runs games every week for players of all ages.
Valley Ridge: Calgary's finest outdoor ice in the North West, the outdoor rink is also maintained by enthusiastic volunteers. The community association has invested in grooming machines to make sure ice is smooth and crack free.
Calgary South East Hockey Associations
There are many minor hockey associations throughout the city but the south east quadrant is prolific. This quadrant is a busy minor hockey area with the Blackfoot Hockey Association, Bow Valley Hockey Association and the Calgary Buffaloes Hockey Association. This quadrant is blessed with a large number of indoor hockey arenas and every single day there are games and practices going on. From Auburn Bay and Seton in the extreme south east all the way to Forest Lawn and Erin Woods, these minor hockey associations take care of scheduling in the many south east hockey arenas. The "Buffs" as they are called are what is known as "quadrant" hockey or club hockey and take care of AA and AAA teams. The AAA Midget team is one of Calgary's most successful franchises for players aged 16 and 17 in recent times.
Hockey and School
Many elite players attend the Edge School, a private institution for students of all sport disciplines located in Springbank. The National Sport Academy offers in-school hockey programs for boys and girls in Calgary at various Calgary schools. This program combines academic education with the discipline and learning that comes with athletic participation for students in Grade 5 through 12. Programs are offered at:
- St. Patrick Burns School in Calgary North West
- R.T. Alderman Middle School in Calgary South East
- Central Memorial Senior High School in Calgary South West
Between the Alberta Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League, there's affordable spectator hockey for families to see all through the winter. The Calgary Canucks and the Calgary Mustangs play at Max Bell Arena in the North East or Father David Bauer by the University of Calgary. The WHL Calgary Hitmen's home rink is the Scotiabank Saddledome. Mount Royal University's Cougars, the University of Calgary's Dinos and the SAIT Trojans also supply very entertaining spectator hockey. Tickets are reasonably priced for junior and varsity hockey action in Calgary.
The History of Hockey in Calgary
The history of ice hockey in Calgary goes back well over a century. The first game was played in the city on January 4, 1893, when the Town Boys challenged a rival city team, the Tailors. The Town Boys won, and went on to play multiple games against a team composed of members of the North-West Mounted Police.
Ice hockey quickly gained popularity in Calgary and the first professional league was formed in 1921. Five of the first team members went on to become Hockey Hall of Fame honorees, securing Calgary's reputation as one of Canada's top hockey cities.
National League Hockey, however, would not arrive in Calgary until 1980, when a prominent businessman purchased the Atlanta Flames and brought them to the city. The $16 million purchase price was, at the time, the highest price ever paid for a professional hockey team.
The team has seen many wins and losses over the years, with a Stanley Cup championship early in their history. After a number of years of unspectacular playing, the team saw a resurgence in the early 2000s, which included a number of division championship wins.
Calgary's first NHL franchise came to the city in 1981 when the team played at the Corral at Stampede Park. The Scotiabank Saddledome was built in 1983 and has been the Flames home ice ever since. The Calgary Flames have won the Stanley Cup only once in it's 35-year history—in 1989, but fans have remained loyal and hopeful ever since.