Hockey and Nelson Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jam
Hockey has been a part of Nelson’s culture for as long as anyone can remember. Before the Civic Arena was built in 1935, an open ice arena at Hall Mines Road and Kootenay Street was the spot for big games between rivals Nelson Maple Leafs and Trail Smoke Eaters.
In the early part of the twentieth century, Kootenay Lake also used to freeze, and old timers can remember playing shinny on the thick ice. Though you can still play shinny around the Kootenay Lake region, and hockey is still played at the iconic Civic Arena, Nelson is now home to an NHL sized rink that seats 1200 and is attached to a modern facility including a pool and fitness facility with change rooms, showers, sauna and steam room.
In 2007 Nelson held Hockey Day in Canada, which was aired across Canada. There’s even a book now available at Otters Book Store celebrating this event.
Active Recreational Hockey Community
Nelson and the entire Kootenay Lake region is home to a very active recreational hockey community. If you bring your gear with you on your next visit, there’s an opportunity to play or watch nearly every night of the week. Men’s, Women’s and Co-ed hockey leagues keep hundreds of locals active and busy during the colder months of the year. Because there are so many active leagues, you should call the Nelson and District Community Complex at (250) 354-4FUN for details about when you can play. But there are drop in opportunities several nights each week, and in typical Kootenay Lake spirit, visitors are welcome.
Twenty Years of Women’s Hockey in Nelson
It was nearly twenty years ago that a group of women including Joanne Siderius got together and started the Blue Liners, a women’s hockey team. They “fought for the ice time” back then, but today, there is so much women’s hockey going on that I had a hard time keeping track of all the action. Between Tuesday lunch hour, Wednesday and Friday night games and tournaments, women’s hockey is busy in this area. There are definitely chances to participate as a visitor, so do call the NDCC for information on when and how to jump in and play.
Men’s and Youth Recreational Hockey
Men and youth who are looking for a chance to play hockey in Nelson are also in luck. There are very active recreational leagues with drop-in practice times for men and youth during the week. The NDCC often has recreational pick up “shinny” games once a week after school for youth of all ages as well. These pick up games are a fun chance to play hockey in the true spirit of the game. Do phone the NDCC at (250) 354-4FUN for details on all the different options for men and youth to play during the week.
Make Hockey a Part of Your Next Visit to Kootenay Lake
Whether you watch a Nelson Leafs game on a Friday evening to a sold out crowd, or play drop in hockey with a group of new friends, we’ve got a long and proud hockey history, one you can see for yourself at our Sports Museum. We’ve always loved hockey here and we can’t wait to share it with you.
Top photo courtesy of Joanne Siderius.