New glass, new boards, new ice and a fresh start at the Sunshine Coast Arena in Sechelt — all in time for a new season for the Sunshine Coast Minor Hockey Association and other Coast-based ice sports.
The arena was re-opened last Saturday during a day-long event hosted by the SCMHA and the Sunshine Coast Regional District.
The day featured on-ice practices, a sledge hockey demonstration put on by Hockey BC that was hugely popular, a demonstration from the Sunshine Coast Skate Club and a fundraising barbecue and bottle drive.
The arena was forced to close in April 2012 when a pipe that was part of the under-slab heating and cooling system burst, leaving the community without one of its two ice sheets for the entire 2012 season.
Insurance covered much of the repair cost, but the SCRD decided to take advantage of the closure and invest about $100,000 to upgrade things like the boards and glass, the player benches and penalty box.
With a second facility now open, the SCMHA is excited for the start of the new season, which will begin in earnest on Oct. 4.
“It's been pretty busy with early season preparation for all our volunteers, coaches, division managers and our board,” said president Sean Gray. “There is a lot of work done by a lot of people throughout the year, not just during the season. We're very excited about the new season, the arena opening and the prospects for another good year.”
Gray said having the Sechelt arena up and running is huge for the association.
“Minor hockey gives a big thanks to the Sunshine Coast Regional District, the District of Sechelt and everyone who got the arena back up and running,” he said. “It definitely is a big convenience to have both arenas going for minor hockey and adult hockey. We got through last year, but it was tough, so it's nice for the upcoming season.”
On Oct. 4 all travelling rep teams and house league teams will begin their tiering and divisional placement games, which will last until early November. Then, based on the records, teams will be placed in divisions by BC Minor Hockey for regular season play.
Atom and peewee divisions will both have two house teams and one rep team in each division, while midget and bantam will have one rep team and one house team. The atom house team, for the first time in many years, will also be travelling into the Lower Mainland.
“So that's kind of exciting in that it will expose some of the younger kids to the travel and tougher competition,” Gray added.
There are also plans for the association to host three to four tournaments this year.
“Minor hockey wants to give back and we know that these tournaments are big for the business community, for hotels, restaurants, etc., so it's big for everyone to be able to run our tournaments again. We simply couldn't do that last year with only one facility,” Gray said.