My family at Centre Ice of the Winnipeg Arena, less than a week before its doors close for good.
Tonight was shaping up to be a rough night. First, it was raining when I came out of work. Then, I got on the wrong bus and it took me about 2 miles past where I wanted to get off. Then, when I finally got off and ran across the street to get the next bus back, I looked out the window and saw T and the kids in the car next to the bus I was on. When I finally got off the bus and started walking to my brother-in-law’s house, I fell in a puddle and got my ass wet and my hands scraped.
But then, we went to the arena. The old Winnipeg Arena, soon to be replaced by The Phone Booth, the MTS Centre, a state-of-the-art downtown arena. Our neighbour works for the company that ran the old arena and he rented the ice for an hour and invited all the neighbours with hockey-playing kids to come.
This arena was home the the Winnipeg Jets, and hosted all the NHL teams. Wayne Gretzky played there many times. We saw the World Junior gold medal game in 1999. Canada lost to Russia. We saw NHL playoff games there when every fan in the building would wear white and scream until they were hoarse. I don’t think it helped the Jets, but it was fun and we got a reputation for being the loudest building in the NHL.
Tonight, we got to use the dressing room and we spent an hour on the rink, skating, scrimmaging, falling down, having fun. I don’t own skates, so I stood in the penalty box (think of all who have passed minutes in there!)and took pictures until I traded my shoes for M’s skates and I wobbled around the rink for a few minutes. I even joined in a bit of a game, and took a few passes.
The kids were excited. Jack skated like a four-year-old bolt of lightning. He took shots on a real grown-up goalie (who also turned out to be a firefighter in real life, how cool is that?) and, as he put it, put two shots “through the five hole”. Aimee is getting pretty fast, and she skated rings around me. Once she came skating up and tagged me. “You’re it,” she said and skated off. I had no hope.
After the game, they ordered in hotdogs and chips and drinks. Jack warned us on the way to the car that he might fall asleep on the way home. He was asleep in about five minutes.
It was a lot of fun and it made me nostalgic for all the good times I had in that building. It will be demolished soon, to make room for more big box outlets. I am a little melancholy for it. I probably went on more dates in that building than any movie theatre in the city. Tonight was good, active, family fun. The whole evening cost us $20, our share of the ice rental. Cheap at twice the price. Now, my kids have memories of it too.