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  • Writer's pictureHunter Cresswell

Outdoor hockey iced in the Hills

Canadian hockey legends start their journey to stardom and greatness on their neighbourhood outdoor hockey rinks.

But there aren’t outdoor hockey rinks in either Masham or Chelsea centre village. Neither the municipality of La Pêche or Chelsea have plans to build outdoor hockey rinks in their respective villages.

“Outdoor rinks are key for growing the sport and the hockey player at the grassroots levels. It’s usually the first place a kid will learn to skate.

It’s a place where kids can polish their skills and put in extra work and join a pick-up game for extra practice,” Wakefield resident and hockey player representative for Maloney & Thompson Sports Management Jonathan Ward told the Low Down.

Masham or Chelsea centre village don’t have outdoor hockey rinks, but both have indoor rinks. The Meredith Centre in Chelsea and the La Pêche Sports Complex in Masham both charge for ice time.

“Not everyone can afford the high prices of elite private training indoors, therefore the outdoor rinks are key to keep young players and families interested in the game,” Ward said.

La Pêche has three outdoor hockey rinks, Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux said. They are located in Lac-des-Loups, Rupert and Wakefield. East-Aldfield used to have one, but it’s no longer in use, he added.

As the municipality has big plans for a sports hub project in Masham, the Low Down asked if there were plans to include an outdoor hockey rink.

“As for the park Masham, the idea of an [outdoor] ice rink is considered for the future, but not a hockey rink,” Lamoureux said.

Chelsea has just two outdoor hockey rinks. One in Farm Point and one in Hollow Glen, said Mayor Pierre Guénard, who didn’t mention any plans to build any more when asked.

“For the village, we have a skating rink on Scott Road for free skating,” he said, referring to the rink on the lawn in front of the Gatineau Park visitor centre, which doesn't have boards or nets.

“I think main villages should have a well-maintained and updated outdoor rink. The [Centre Wakefield La Pêche] rink is often very crowded, as Masham doesn’t have its own outdoor rink,” Ward said. “One rink isn’t enough for our growing municipality.”

Canada is miles ahead of other countries in terms of number of hockey rinks. In fact, it has the most out of any country in the world. According to data website, Canada has 5,000 outdoor hockey rinks and over 2,600 indoor rinks. This is well above the runner up, the U.S., which has 500 outdoor hockey rinks and 1,541 indoor rinks.

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