Hockey is officially Canada's winter sport and the source of many national heroes over the years. Almost every little town has a hockey arena, and every neighborhood a rink. The game is played on an ice rink by players wearing hockey skates. Each team plays with 6 players at a time (5 skaters plus a goalie). To score a point, one team needs to shoot a flat & round black rubber "puck" past the opposing team's goalie, into their net. Hockey is a fast-paced team sport that requires skill, strength and endurance.
For recreational hockey, all you need are a stick, skates and warm clothing (and a puck). Competitive hockey is played fast and can be dangerous, so full equipment and padding is required for organized league play. Each player needs (in addition to the above): helmet with a face mask, neck guard, shoulder pads, elbow pads, jersey, suspenders, padded hickey pants, hockey gloves, protective sports cup, shin pads, and hockey socks. A Goalie requires specialized versions of the skates, stick, and protective equipment.
Almost any sports or department stores will carry hockey equipment. Take the time to ensure that your gear fits right and offers enough protection. For rapidly-growing youths, you may wish to consider quality used equipment. Most minor hockey associations have a used equipment swap at the start of each hockey season.
Hockey can be played on either indoor or outdoor rinks. Outdoor rinks are subject to weather, ice conditions and availability. Indoor play (in Canmore, Banff and Jasper) is subject to the seasonal availability of ice time. Some indoor rinks may be closed in the spring and summer months. Be sure to check with your local arena information about hockey schools, leagues and ice time availability.
For a first-time hockey player, you may wish to invest in a lesson and use rented equipment, before investing in the full gear. Enquire about hockey schools or drop-in leagues at your local arena. To get involved in a adult league or in minor hockey, contact the parks and Recreation department to find out about the literally hundreds of hockey organizations.
The Cranbrook Rec Centre is home to the Western Hockey League's Cranbrook Ice team, winner of the 2002 Memorial Cup.