by Dave Bidini, The Toronto Star
Feb. 20, 2005
9 a.m., Otter Creek Rink: The morning is clean and cold, cast in gold winter light: fine skating weather. The dual ice pads at Otter Creek — a name that sounds pulled from a Robert Kroetsch novel — sit at the end of a cul de sac, surrounded by a high school and a valley. As I peel myself from the warmth of my car, a kid who looks about 10 years old opens the rear door of the red brick building and announces: "Rink's open!" The dressing room is empty except for a coffee and Pepsi machine, a garbage can and a pay phone. I pull on my skates and take that short wobbly walk over the rippled rubber past the kids' pad to the lip of the hockey rink. The boards are a checkered mosaic of puck marks.
Skaterless, the rink feels big, the space irresistably free. Behind me, a few players file into the dressing room. I clack my stick on the ice and step out. Today, I am first.