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Regina outdoor hockey rink. Photo by Allison Bamford.

Teams of the Regina Outdoor Hockey League (OHL) are trying to improve their rinks, which need several facility upgrades.

 

According to Peter Joyce, coach at the Cathedral rink, the outdoor rinks used in the OHL “were built quite a few years back and … a lot of the facilities are nearing the end of their useful life.”

 

The OHL is a free-of-charge hockey league for youth ages eight to 18 who otherwise would not have the chance to play in organized sports. The volunteer-run league uses nine rinks across the city and receives its funding from Ehrlo Sport Venture. Ehrlo Sports Venture also offers an equipment loan program where youth can borrow equipment and return it at the end of the season.

 

The City of Regina is in charge of maintaining the ice surfaces and facilities at the outdoor rinks. However, Joyce would like to see improvements done to these rinks.

 

Joyce said a group of volunteers have been working “in collaboration with the Ranch (Ehrlo Sports Venture) and trying to work with the City to develop a five-year plan to reinvest and improve the rink facilities that the Outdoor Hockey League uses.”

 

The Cathedral rink is currently fundraising on its own for the installment of players’ boxes as “sort of a first step” in improving the facility, Joyce said.

 

Without players’ boxes “you have to have the kids stand in a snow bank on the other side of the boards,” Joyce said.

 

“It will cost $2,800, not including the in-kind contribution of labour” from a local construction company, Joyce said.

This “first step” would make a big difference in the team’s play.

 

“The players' boxes would let us have games outdoors,” said Joyce. “We are currently a league that whenever we have a game we play indoors, which is kind of funny for an Outdoor Hockey League.”

 

The addition of players’ boxes is not the only improvement needed, according to Joyce.

 

“In our case, you need lights to be able to see at night. That’s when we run our programs,” Joyce said. "We need things like lines on the ice to run our drills and so forth...to teach kids what an offside is.”

 

The Cathedral rink is not the only outdoor rink in the OHL that needs an upgrade.

 

Chip Nixon, zone coordinator and coach at the Grassick outdoor rink located in North Central, said his rink is also in need of improvements.

 

“We’ve been asking for a new shack for over 10 years,” Nixon said.

 

When asked what obstacles are holding back the improvements, Nixon only had one thing to say: “Empty promises from the voices of politicians.”

 

Improvements to Grassick rink would mean a lot to Nixon and the North Central community.

 

“Talk about keeping kids out of trouble and all of the good stuff that helps communities prosper and grow,” Nixon said. “It would just give the communities a sense of pride and more belonging if there was nicer facilities, especially in North Central.”

 

As for now, the improvements being made to rinks are only possible through individual fundraising.

 

“Anyone could fundraise it’s just a matter of finding time,” said Nixon. “When you work full time and have kids, I’m just happy that we have the city on our side with cleaning the ice.”