I play on a rec league ice hockey team with 15 other dudes and have been with the team for almost 5 years. Some of our guys played growing up, others (like myself) started playing later in life, but all of us enjoy playing the game. We’ve played in almost all of the leagues here in Edmonton and have found the NCHL to be the best one by far. The one thing that’s consistent across the leagues is that the game times are usually later in the evening. This wasn’t a big deal a few years ago since a 9pm or 9:30pm start meant we’d be off the ice and home around 11pm. Plenty of time to unwind and get a decent night’s sleep before work the next day. Unfortunately that’s changed over the last two years.
Leagues in Edmonton have lost at least four sheets of ice with the closure of Winterburn’s two and the can’t-be-completed-soon-enough renovation to Clareview’s twin rinks. Four doesn’t sound like a lot but adult leagues have all had to push back their game starts by at least an hour so kids can still play at a decent time (you’ll get no argument from me that kids should get priority). The real-world implication is that we now start the vast majority of our games between 10pm and 11pm. I’m fine with this if our game is on a Friday or Saturday night because I can sleep-in the next day. On any other night, though, I’m stepping on the ice when I should be crawling into bed. Sunday and Monday are easily the two worst nights to have these late games – you start your week tired and spend the rest of it trying to catch up, frequently uttering “ugh, why?” the day after a game. Let me break it down: a 10:45pm start means I’m not stepping off the ice until midnight, I’m not home until around 12:30am, and I’m certainly not falling asleep until 1:30am or 2. The alarm at 6am comes way too soon, the double espressos can’t come fast enough, the work day – while manageable – stretches on forever, and bed seems like a perfectly reasonable option at 6pm. I don’t even want to begin to imagine what it will be like when I combine this with having young kids.
Regrettably I don’t control time and space so all any of us can do is wait for Clareview to re-open (since it’s highly improbable the City will make a surprise announcement of four new, turn-key rinks) and hope that moves up the game times. My pessimistic side anticipates this will happen just in time for other rinks to shut down for renovations. My optimistic side hopes to be surprised by better planning by the City. My realistic side is coming to terms with another two or three years of late nights and “ugh, why?” days.