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Getting the Most Out of the ODR Experience

By Ontario Minor Hockey Association, 02/06/23, 11:30AM EST


Ability to skate outside is one of winter's hockey highlights

When the temperature steadily stays below zero many hockey players have enjoyed playing on an outdoor rink. There are few settings more picturesque than skating or playing a fun game of hockey outside while the snow falls around you. Outdoor rinks can be a great place for communities to share the joy of skating and backyard rinks are perfect for families to spend some time having fun together or for players to work on their skills. Many towns often set up outdoor rinks for public skating for everyone to enjoy.

Whether going for a simple skate, working on your shot, or playing a few games, the outdoor rink is a great backdrop for players to spend time outside this winter. 

Here are six tips to have the best ODR experience. These are best used in rinks designated for hockey or in a private backyard rink.

Have Fun, Just Play!

Don’t worry about rules of the game like icing and offside, just invite some teammates over and enjoy the experience. Outdoor rinks are great for the whole family to enjoy. Remember to stay safe and be careful of the other people around you who may not be as experienced on skates. It’s easy to fall in love with the outdoor rink experience – TSN’s Darren Dreger shares his passion and some tips for outdoor rink tips on the Breakaway Podcast.

Be Safe

Just because you aren't at the arena doesn't mean you can take a break from being safe. Helmets should still be worn at all times. If you are practicing shooting or playing a game be aware of who is around you and what equipment they are wearing. Exercise caution and keep your sticks and pucks down. The outdoor rink or pond is a place for everyone!

You Shot It, You Get It

Backyard rinks and ponds don’t always have the benefit of netting or boards to keep the puck in the playing area. If the puck goes out of the rink and you shot it or send a bad pass, it’s your job to go retrieve it so everyone can continue playing. A quick fix for this is to bring a bucket of pucks with you and do one big cleanup after you’re done playing. Team effort for the win!

No Goalies, No Problem

If you can’t find a goalie to join you on the outdoor rink there are some variations of games you can play without a netminder. Use a shooter tutor or switch to mini nets to change things up. Worst case scenario, just throw down a couple pairs of winter boots to act as a make shift net and have some fun working on some new dangles. This is also a chance to work on some drills from Hockey Labs.


Remember, outdoors rinks are meant for light-hearted, fun hockey with your friends of all skill levels. The cold weather won't last for much longer so take advantage of it while you still can. Take it easy, especially if you’re playing with younger kids. Nobody wants to get hurt. Avoid slapshots and body checking.


When you’re done playing, shovel the ice to remove any excess snow. It's unlikely a zamboni is about to come on so everyone needs to do their part to help maintain the ice for the next group! Clean up any garbage and try to leave the ice as you found it. If it’s a backyard rink, flood the ice so it can freeze overnight.

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