Let’s hear it for the cheap seats

Face off at centre ice

Yesterday, we watched two great hockey games. And it didn’t cost us a dime.

We cheered on the Queen’s University women’s hockey team to an 8-1 victory over Windsor at the Memorial Centre. There were only about 100 people in the stands.

Then we watched one of Grace’s friends, who plays competitive hockey take on Ajax. It was amazing to me even at that age (14), at that level, what great hockey it was. Kingston came out on top 2-1.

Entertainment costs today have spiralled out of control. According to Forbes magazine, the average ticket price for a Toronto Maple Leafs ticket is now $368.60, the highest in the league.

Last year, the Toronto Blue Jays announced they’d be hiking ticket prices for the 2018 season. 200 level seats within the bases will cost over $50 a ticket.

My brother recently attended the Canada vs. Finland World Junior Hockey game in Buffalo. They paid $120 a ticket and the stands were half empty.

empty hockey stadium

Every week I see Facebook posts of people who have taken their kids to $100 concerts.

It’s almost become cost prohibitive for a family of four to go to any of these events.

In every community, there are local sporting events and concerts for free or that are relatively cheap. You can also get much closer to the action.

Yesterday, I sat right behind the penalty box and Queen’s bench for a period of the game. It’s cool to see the interaction of the officials, coaches and players—you could hear all the conversations and see the coaching staff in action.

And unlike at a Blue Jays or Maple Leafs game where you’d pay $12 a beer and $8 a hot dog, we spent $4 for four bags of popcorn.

So let’s hear it for the cheap seats. If you like hockey, here are some cheap events coming up in our region:

  • The Carr-Harris Cup at the KRock Centre on February 1st—watch Queen’s take on RMC for just $12 a ticket
  • The Queen’s Women’s hockey team is taking on the Western Mustangs today (Sunday, January 21) at the Memorial Centre at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 each and a bag of popcorn is only a buck. You can check out all the Queen’s sports games at gogaelsgo.com. I’ve taken the kids to their basketball double header nights (women and mens) and it’s a great night of entertainment.

Queen's hockey bench

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Play in the big leagues

girl watching zamboniYesterday, we attended the Empire Life children’s Christmas party at the KROCK Centre in Kingston. It’s always a fantastic event with Santa, crafts, cupcakes and lots of good cheer.

The absolute best part of this annual party for our family is being able to skate on the KROCK Centre rink. For one day, we get to play in the big leagues.

We swish down the long straightaways past the blue lines and centre line to the sounds of Christmas music on the loud speakers. I marvel at how big the place is—the rink is cavernous. I look up at the bright lights and ads adorning the walls of the rink, the big Canadian flag and scoreboard and my co-workers eating pizza in the stands. We feel like we have the whole arena all to ourselves.

We play a serious game of tag. The kids are too fast now—I can’t catch them, but have fun trying. We watch from the visitor’s bench as the Zamboni makes its rounds, leaving the ice a slate of sheer beauty. It’s so perfect you feel like you’re skating on glass. Grace and Clare perch at the opening to the door on the bench, determined to be the first back on the ice.

Yes, it was a great day. A day when you can imagine, just for a moment playing in the big leagues.

This week’s #HappyAct is to find something you can do with your friends or family that makes you dream big. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your own rink of dreams.

Ed. Note: As a follow-up to last week’s blog, I posted the question “Does being a leader make you happy” on Quora. You can see the conversation here.

On frozen pond

Man standing with hockey stick on a rink on a lakeI wish I had a river so long. I would teach my feet to fly.” When Canadian Joni Mitchell recorded her iconic song The River in 1971, she was actually living in California.

Since then, The River has been recorded by 452 other artists, everyone from Blue Rodeo, Sarah McLaughlin to Idina Menzel, many of them Canadian artists.

There are times in our life when we all wish we had a river to skate away on, but I think Mitchell’s song resonates because it taps into our icy Canadian veins and our love affair with a frozen pond or rink.

For me that song evokes many memories, of skating on the Credit River as a child, skating all 7 kms on the Rideau Canal as a university student from the bars downtown to school, and watching in wonder as my own children found their wings and learned to fly on our frozen lake.

I remember one time BK (before kids) Dave and I hiked into Moulton Lake in Frontenac Park with our skates. It was early in the season, probably only four or five inches of black ice. The sun was rising and there were three deer at the end of the lake. The only sound besides the crunches of our skates carving into the pristine ice was the loud caws of crows soaring above, expressing their displeasure that we had disturbed their peace.

On frozen pond, I am free.

This week’s #HappyAct is to spend time outdoors on a frozen surface. Here are some pics from our frozen pond and some frosty happenings in the region to check out.

  • All 7.8 kms of the Rideau canal is now open in Ottawa, making it the world’s longest skating rink. Winterlude starts January 30, 2015 and continues to February 16.
  • Yesterday was the eleventh annual Skate the Lake in Portland—this tiny town on Big Rideau Lake in Eastern Ontario hosts this annual event where you can skate in 5 km to 50 km races on their oval—I plan to be there next year!
  • And something for skaters to add to their bucket list. Arrowhead Provincial Park north of Toronto has created a “fairy tale” 1.3 km ice loop through majestic pines, see this story for details.

people and dog walking on frozen lake

 

girl with hockey stick on frozen rink