Hockey. Canada. Outdoor rinks. Beer. To a lot of people, those are all related to each other in one way or another. Molson Canadian, an NHL sponsor, started the #ANYTHINGFORHOCKEY campaign in 2014 to promote their new outdoor rink contest and of course their well-known Molson Canadian Beer Fridge. Let me tell you, these aren’t just your average Canadian outdoor rinks, and no, you don’t have to be of legal drinking age to experience this. However, reserving ice time does come with a cost, or having some incredible luck, but if you’re lucky enough to get to experience this amazing thing, the memories seem to be priceless.
One of the first commercials for the campaign was called “Lift-Off,” featuring a helicopter flying their Molson Canadian Beer Fridge into the mountains. The voiceover says, “We live for hockey: from the epic goals, to the iconic arenas … but this game was born outside … so that’s where we’re taking it.” And so the story begins.
In 2015, Molson Canadian chose a remote location for their rink atop the Canadian Rockies in British Columbia — so remote that people had to take a helicopter to the location, but also very cool (no pun intended with snowy mountains) and 8,000 feet above sea level. The idea originated from one man, Brad Friesen, and his buddies when they and their helicopter had to be rescued in the snowy mountains when trying to build an ice rink on top of a mountain. Molson Canadian heard of Friesen’s story and offered him to be part of the #ANYTHINGFORHOCKEY campaign. As awesome as this all sounds to the public, only #ANYTHINGFORHOCKEY campaign winners got to experience the mountaintop rink.
One of the coolest stories to come out of the 2015 #ANYTHINGFORHOCKEY outdoor rink was the surprise father-son trip to hockey heaven in the mountains. The story goes a little bit like this: 17 years ago, Andrei Lanochkin picked up and moved his entire family from Estonia to Canada to give his son Vitaly a chance to play hockey as he was growing up. One part of the story tells how Vitaly grew up in Estonia skating on used figure skates. After the big move to Canada, Vitaly had the opportunity to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League against Sidney Crosby from 2003 to 2005. Vitaly wanted to do something really cool to thank his father for the opportunity to play hockey at a more advanced level. Molson Canadian helped him achieve his goal so he and his father could lace up on top of the Rocky Mountains. The day capped off with a special air delivery by Molson Canadian bringing the two the iconic Molson Canadian Beer Fridge. Many notable figures from the hockey community on Twitter posted about this story, including Hockey Canada, NHL, Sports Illustrated and Hayley Wickenheiser. The video is definitely worth the three-minute watch.
Last year, in 2016, Molson Canadian decided to build their rink on the top of a skyscraper in downtown Toronto, 32 stories up at 120 Adelaide Street West. Instead of a view of snow-covered mountains, skaters got to see amazing views of Toronto’s skyline. All of the equipment needed to build and maintain the rink was lifted by crane from a neighboring building to the roof it was being built on, and the weekly operational cost for this special rink was an unbelievable $100,000. WOW.
Sports Net Canada broke down all of the key facts for this sky-high rooftop rink. First off, the rink is half the size of an official NHL size rink, making it perfect for a game of three-on-three. Along with this came weight limitations and a strict capacity limit for the amount of people who can be on the roof at the same time. Since a Zamboni is too big for this rink location, the ice is cleared with a flooding machine using hot water and an ice scraper to smooth the surface. To keep pucks from flying 32 stories down from the rink, there is regulation glass and netting.
The really cool thing about the 2016 Toronto rooftop rink was that the opportunity for the public to use it was much easier to attain than the mountaintop rink in 2015. Being located in downtown Toronto, the rink was open to the public and people could register to use the ice. The contest to win ice time started on January 20, and the rink was available to the public from January 29 to February 7. For $2,000, groups of 20 people were able to rent the rooftop rink for an hour-and-a-half session, along with access to the company lounge in that building on the 20th floor. Expensive, but also a really cool experience. Some of the Toronto Maple Leafs alumni rented ice time, and coaches from a minor youth hockey association spent about seven hours on the rooftop rink. Amazing.
From being 8,000 feet above sea level in the British Columbia Rockies, to being 32 stories above the streets of downtown Toronto, it seems as though it will be hard for Molson Canadian to ever top these incredible outdoor rinks. As awesome as the Toronto rooftop rink looks and probably is to experience, I was in awe of the mountaintop rink and its views when I watched the video. I can honestly say I wish I got to experience this in person. Molson Canadian, props to you.