Over the winter months, the Gauntlet will have a section that reviews various outdoor rinks in Calgary. The rinks will be reviewed according to four categories: quality of ice, amenities, clientele and overall experience.
Each outdoor rink will be given a score out of five Gauntlet pucks — five out of five being worthy of a Molson Canadian commercial and zero out of five is basically a pile of snow outside of a curling club.
Citadel Community Rink
Citadel’s full-sized outdoor hockey rink is located beside Citadel Park School — 808 Citadel Drive N.W.
Quality of Ice: 2/5
The ice — in places where it actually existed — was pretty good with few bumps. Unfortunately, there were numerous patches where the ice got so thin that the concrete base was exposed. The corners had large bare areas, as did one end from the blue line to the net, making a third of the rink virtually unplayable. It was very hard to avoid hitting the deck once or twice as a result of going from ice to concrete, even while constantly keeping an eye out for patches. These spills can be good for a laugh but there is the risk of injury as well — the concrete also isn’t doing your skates any favours.
The rink has full-sized boards along with fencing at each end to keep errant shots from flying into the surrounding field. It is well-lit by large lights that remain on until late. There are also numerous benches to sit on while lacing up skates and a small skating surface beside the main rink for those looking to avoid pucks and sticks.
The Thursday night crowd was sizable with around 10–15 people taking advantage of the relatively warm night.
On this night, the skaters consisted mainly of young people, aged 16–25, including some patrons consuming their alcoholic beverage of choice, something that is of course prohibited by City of Calgary bylaw.
Overall experience: 2/5
This rink has a lot of potential. In fact, the poor ice is really the only negative aspect. Unfortunately, sub-par ice will make any outdoor rink mediocre, regardless of other factors. However, the weather might have been a mitigating factor for this visit.
If the ice is improved and the bare spots covered up, it has everything needed to be a great community rink. It might be best to look elsewhere for an outdoor rink for now, unless you like to live dangerously and aren’t particularly attached to your skates.