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Stampede City Hockey

June 26th, 2011

When I was planning this trip, I decided to start by heading north from Minnesota because, as written on the route page, “Which place is more likely to have hockey in early July: Calgary or New Orleans?”  The flaw in that logic was that I didn’t actually check to see how much hockey Calgary would have in the middle of summer.  It turned out to be more scarce that expected, and that led me to stay in the Stampede City a day longer than I had planned.

I had put out a number of feelers in advance of my arrival.  Posts and replies on Craigslist, Kijiji (which is more popular around here than Craigslist), and hockey message boards came up dry.  So did calls to the local rinks operated by the city.  They had weekday lunchtime shinny, yes, but I arrived on Friday afternoon and had planned to leave on Sunday.

I wasn’t getting anywhere, so I got the list of all of the rinks in Calgary from Rinktime and started going through them one by one.  Near the end of the list, I struck gold: the privately operated Trico Centre had evening shinny on Saturday.  I gave them a call to confirm that the shinny would be happening, and then I relaxed, knowing that I would be able to check another province off the list.  Or so I thought.

Saturday evening arrived, and I made the 10-minute drive from my hotel to the rink.  With great enthusiasm, I announced my arrival to the (very attractive) young ladies working the front desk.

“Ok, that will be $5.25” one of the women said.

“Well, you see, I’m a goalie,” I replied.

“Oh, okay.  That’s free then.  Just check your name on the reservation sheet.”

Reservation sheet?  Uh-oh.  “Wait — I thought there were no reservations?”

“Except for goalies.  Goalies phone ahead in the morning.  The spots usually fill up right away.”


I hadn’t made a goalie reservation, and the window to execute my backup plan (a private lesson at The Goalie Shop) had closed about half an hour earlier.  I was a goalie without ice.

I stuck around for a little while to see if the registered goalies would show up.  They did, and I didn’t have the heart to ask them to give up their spots for me.

What to do, what to do.  I knew that there would be shinny around noon the next day in Edmonton, but that would mean a six-hour round trip to get there and back, or going there and skipping Banff, neither of which were appealing.

At that point, I did the only thing I could do.  I pulled the Minnesota card.


I said to the women at the desk, “Ok, here’s the situation.  I’m doing something that is going to sound either crazy or awesome, depending on your perspective.  I’m doing a road trip to every state and every province, playing hockey as a goalie in each of them.  Alberta is next on my list, and I really need to find a game here either today or tomorrow.  Seriously.  I’m really from Minnesota” at which point I pulled out my driver’s license and held it up for them to see.  “Is there anything that can be done?”

There was a brief pause, and then one of the girls said, “Well… it’s against the rules, but…”

And that’s how I found myself with a reserved spot to play goalie during Sunday’s shinny game.

The next day came, and I knew I was going to be in for a challenge the moment I walked into the changing room.  The half-dozen guys already there all looked about 20 years old and knew each other.  In fact, they played on the same rec league team.  That sort of situation usually indicates that they grew up playing hockey, which in turn portends a rather higher level of skill that I possess.  My fears were further reinforced by the topic of their discussion, the salient point being that their team played in the “A” tier, which is as high as the tiers go.

Things went about as expected.  I managed to get a photo of me in net:

...at least that's what it felt like. (Cheese photo credit: Arz)

The good news is that the guys were good sports about the situation, even when I fanned on a puck coming from the other end of the ice and watched helplessly as it casually went into the net.  I had fun.

The next hockey will be in Alaska in a few weeks, so I’ll have plenty of time for my ego to recover.

  1. Bri
    June 27th, 2011 at 01:44 | #1

    Oh, dear. You felt like you were from Wisconsin. That is REALLY bad. Glad you’re having fun!

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