Eighteen years ago, the folks running Excellent Ice in Kirkland, QC, decided there was a place for 3-on-3 hockey. After all, what better way to give players more puck touches? So they opened an arena with two 130×60 pads – perfect for 3-on-3 hockey – and six years later, they added a third to satisfy the growing demand. But with some land behind their rink lying dormant, they had another idea for an additional revenue stream and this weekend will mark the grand opening of their two brand new, outdoor DEK hockey rinks.
“Where we are, winter is long enough,” Excellent Ice’s Manager, Brent Sabino tells me. “So, when the weather’s nice, you shouldn’t have to play your favourite game inside.”
You might not know DEK hockey, but it’s an organized version of street hockey. Sabino tells me that the management went on a tour of some existing DEK hockey facilities before deciding on building two of their own, bringing this up-and-coming sport to Montreal’s West Island.
“We visited some facilities on the south shore of Montreal, in Laval and St. Jerome,” he tells me. “DEK hockey is very big in the francophone community. For the anglophone community, there’s a lot of indoor ball hockey leagues, but this is new.”
Being outdoors, however, doesn’t mean it’s a year round facility.
“We can use it until 11:00 at night, we can use it during the day, of course, and we plan to use it until the snow falls, but that’s when the season will end.”
In addition to the DEK hockey facilities being an additional revenue stream for Excellent Ice, it gives them an additional why-to-buy reason for parents considering signing up their youngsters for summer hockey camps.
To play, DEK hockey follows the 3-on-3 format that Excellent Ice is known for. It’s played on special DEK flooring, a hard plastic that’s perforated so any rain is removed from the surface. Below that is ashphalt. The players wear running shoes, hockey helmets, gloves and special DEK hockey sticks.
The surrounding boards are hockey boards, but there are no gates for the teams – just a step so players can jump in — and out — of play. The two teams’ benches are on the same side of the DEK hockey rink, separated by the penalty boxes and the timekeeper’s box. There are two different kinds of balls that are used, a softer pink ball for when it’s colder out (from 0-15 degrees) and a harder orange ball (from 15-30 degrees).
“DEK hockey’s playing conditions are sort of like soccer,” Sabino says. “If there’s light rain you’d still play, but if there’s thunder, you’ll stop. The DEK flooring means it doesn’t get slippery when it’s wet.”
Sabino tells me they’ve been busy selling time on the two new facilities, which run at a rate of $115.00 per hour. And he says the Grand Opening will be a great opportunity for the public, as well as players from their 158 youth and 40 adult 3-on-3 ice hockey teams, to come out, try playing hockey outdoors, just without skates.
“We’re going to be getting people to experience it first hand and let them whet their appetite for it. It’s a lot of fun. And, when the weather’s nice, you shouldn’t have to play your favourite game inside,” he says and I can tell he’s grinning.
“That’s so true!” I reply.
2950 – Edmond