A Unicorn NHL TV Market and Why NHL Network Is Blacked Out in Frostburg

NHL Network LogoUpdate 2: I realized I never provided an additional update. Sorry.

The technician visited and explained that as I originally thought, the NHL Network is not available to Frostburg area customers.

However, the tech added that if I was in the Garrett County side of Frostburg instead of Allegany County, I would have access to the NHL Network, and many more channels in general. Of course that doesn’t make a lot of sense because Garrett County is as rural as you can get. It has more than 76,000 acres of public lands and lakes, which I believe is the most in the state.

 

Update: After asking NHL Network via Twitter to help fix this issue, another agent from @ComcastCares reached out and he believes the station is actually available in the Frostburg market.

After testing a different package not shown on the website, the channel didn’t appear, so they are sending a technician on Friday.

The technician will examine if they have my box on the right program guide (I don’t know why there are two different channel line-ups for one ZIP code), examine signal flux and my box.

This ought to demonstrate to the NHL Network to barter a bit better to be included in a lower tier of sports channels to have more viewers because other people would give up at this point to subscribe.

Original: Trying to watch hockey on TV shouldn’t be all that hard.

Given the battles to make it easier to watch games online, you’d think the TV end would be mainly issue free.

Not in Frostburg, Maryland, where territories of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins converge in the mountains.

Frostburg is a unique National Hockey League television market where you can watch both the Washington Capitals on ComcastSportsNet Mid-Atlantic and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Root Sports. It’s a swing county when it comes to hockey allegiances for these bitter rivals, to be honest.

I decided that this year I was going to go without a NHL GameCenter Live subscription. It didn’t make any sense to me anymore despite the new single-team packages being offered thanks to a class-action lawsuit. Broadstreet Hockey exceptionally covered the problems with GCL’s new set-up that’s supposed to be consumer friendly.

When I moved to Florida four years ago, I watched both Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals games, and while I enjoyed the idea, it didn’t quite work out for me, outside of the constant video buffering.

The Lightning and Caps would often play on the same nights and start a half-hour apart. And when they didn’t, one of the two teams were blacked out (typically the Caps) for being on national TV. And the Lightning would mainly be blacked out for being on the NHL Network.

And nothing ticked me off more than being blacked out for a “national” game on the NHL Network, considering it’s not in standard sports channel packages. It’s included on DirecTV (which if they had broadband Internet and not DSL here, I’d be there in a heartbeat).

So, I opted to dive in an extra $9.99 a month to get NHL Network with my current Xfinity package along with some other sports channels like NBA TV (that I’d never watch) and Encore that are included. I figured the NHL Network should be a better deal this year with a new operator taking over, new talent and better programming.

What comes next is five hours of hopelessness between three Comcast agents, one in an online chat, another on the phone and a third via the @ComcastCares Twitter account. And oh yeah, the NHL Network’s website.

Let’s cut to the chase first: The NHL Network is not available on Comcast Xfinity in the Frostburg market. The channel is advertised as part of a Digital Preferred Package when ordering on the Comcast website and three agents fist believed that I should have the channel until they dug deeper to find out that it isn’t available after all.

Now, look at this map of NHL TV territories made in 2013 by Mile High Hockey. Do you think this same issue would lead the NHL not to provide the NHL Network in Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis and New York City where other teams share TV territories? Nope.

2013 NHL TV Territory Map

2013 NHL TV Territory Map

This is a Direct Message from a @ComcastCares rep “DB” who spent several hours trying to fix my issue, including resetting my box for a signal flux issue:

A Comcast rep explains why the NHL Network isn't available after several hours thinking it was.

A Comcast rep explains why the NHL Network isn’t available after several hours thinking it was.

If you can’t read the picture, it says:

“Sorry for the delayed response, I just got confirmation that the NHL isn’t available in your region. I wasn’t able to confirm this earlier. I do suggest still sending a tech out to resolve the signal flux so you don’t experience any issues in the future. ~DB @ComcastCares

“Was there a reason given why it is not available”—@ImYourChuck

“Just that there hasn’t been an agreement reached yet to provide it in your area. Requesting it thru the feedback link will let your region know that it is in demand. Which could make it possibly available later. ~DB @ComcastCares”

Why did I deal with three reps? The first one tried to resolve the issue and couldn’t find the channel. Because I grew tired, I called to speak to someone so I could remove the service. That was relatively quick. The rep, a hockey fan, tried to help but figured out that it’s not available because the NHL decided it shouldn’t be. I spent from 5 to after 11 p.m. going through all of this.

I vented on Twitter and a @ComcastCares manager decided to reach out to me and figure this out in DMs.

Worse, is that when I enter my ZIP on the NHL Network website, it says I should have it. See below:

The NHL Network shows that the channel should be available in Frostburg, Md., on Comcast cable. However, it is not available.

The NHL Network shows that the channel should be available in Frostburg, Md., on Comcast cable. However, it is not available.

The passive way to resolve this, as suggested by Comcast is that I need more people in the Frostburg area to request the NHL Network be made available through both the NHL’s website and Comcast Xfinity feedback. However, that’s a daunting task considering the small population in this region.The FSU student population from Central Maryland helps, but those students are opting for either GameCenterLive, Center Ice or going to the bar.

This isn’t the first delivery issue I’ve had with NHL games in Frostburg. I’m looking forward to the Oct. 31 Caps vs. Panthers game on CSN+ to check to see if I don’t have another channel I’m supposed to have.

I wonder how much of all of this has to deal with this unique territory where rival NHL teams from two markets are shown on local TV channels. And how much has to deal with Xfinity not being able to separate this tiny market from its Pennsylvania customers because its local office is based in Meyersdale, Pa., after shutting down its Frostburg office last year.

I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I want to know.

But really knowing why not is not as important as knowing when I will get the NHL Network.

VIDEO: Tour Wesley Chapel’s Florida Hospital Center Ice

Florida’s largest ice rink complex is under construction north of Tampa, and we’re getting a better sense of what it will look like.

Florida Hospital Center Ice’s website posted additional photos as well as this animated tour of the complex:

A few thoughts:

  • The polished look, large space and layout is unlike anything else in Florida. I could easily see this becoming the new practice home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, getting out of the Brandon Ice Sports Forum.
  • Furthering my speculation from above, the video shows a rendering of a professional locker room (there’s only one pro hockey team in Tampa) and shows that the pro shop will be operated by Rinkside Sports. Rinkside operates the pro shop in Brandon, which services Lightning players and partners with the team for merchandise and sweaters.
  • Sure, that could be an expansion for the business, but everything seems to be aligning to lure the Bolts to practice in Pasco County.
  • Hey, a fireplace! In Florida.
  • Video teases opening in “Early 2016” but man, is that aggressive after breaking ground in February of this year.

I think I’ll be asking my hockey buddies in Maryland to book a trip down to play in a tournament once it opens.

Three Years Later, Clearwater Ice Arena Finally Expands

Clearwater Ice Arena in Florida has started construction on a NHL regulation size rink adding to the existing 30-year-old facility. (Credit: ClearwaterIceArena.com)

Clearwater (Fla.) Ice Arena is finally expanding, three years after Tampa Bay’s oldest ice rink announced it would renovate and expand.

Construction is underway, essentially building a brand new ice rink as an add-on to the 30-year-old, cramped facility, the ice rink announced on its Facebook page. The rink’s staff posted on its website that the space should open in 2016.

The rink is being built on two floors with a varsity locker room for a local high school team, additional locker rooms and showers, party rooms, additional fitness areas and on the second floor, a dryland training area.

What shouldn’t be overlooked is that a second pad of ice is being added, and one that is actually NHL regulation size. The existing sheet at Clearwater Ice Arena (which is actually located in Largo), is just shy of NHL regulation size.

Take a look at the first-floor plans in the photo below:

Clearwater Ice Arena posted these construction plans for its new ice rink it is adding onto its existing building. The new building will have two floors and several features. (Credit: Clearwater Ice Arena)

Clearwater Ice Arena posted these construction plans for its new ice rink it is adding onto its existing building. The new building will have two floors and several features. (Credit: Clearwater Ice Arena)

The rink once served as the practice facility for the Tampa Bay Lightning when the franchise first started and played games at the Florida Fairgrounds and the Thunderdome in St. Petersburg. I don’t know how those guys did it.

Getting to the locker rooms from the lobby is a challenge because there is barely enough room between the boards and a wall to get your hockey bag—especially a goalie bag—through without getting stuck. A support beam in the way doesn’t help.

The floor at the benches is tilted, the ice has ridges on hot days and can separate from the boards.

All that being said, ice rink renovations aren’t cheap and aren’t easy. Fortunately, the rink has been owned by prominent radiologist Dr. Manuel Rose, who is the official radiologist of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Rays and pretty much anyone else in the region.

To his credit, in that first year Rose renovated and expanded the lobby, with automatic sliding doors and room to walk with your gear. A gym was added in the back for weight training and cardio workouts for teams and the showers were also cleaned up and upgraded.

It will serve Rose and CIA well to expand now because since he first received approval from the City of Largo to expand, the ice rink landscape has significantly changed in Tampa Bay. Yes, there more competition from newer facilities in Hockey Paradise.

Dave Beaudin, who was once the hockey director for Clearwater’s ice rink, left to join partners to build Xtra Ice in Tampa, serving as a hockey training facility with a mini rink big enough for four-on-four hockey and ideal for teaching youth players. Several Tampa Bay Lightning alums, including John Tucker and Mathieu Garon, have taught sessions there.

To the north in Wesley Chapel, Florida’s largest ice complex is under construction with four pads of ice, including an Olympic sheet. Florida Hospital Center Ice (what a name), is under construction and is expected to open in August 2016, but I don’t know if that’s really possible given the size of this project.

Better late than never, amirite?

Old Washington Capitals in New Places as NHL Training Camps Begin

It’s too real, guys.

Like seeing your girlfriend with another guy in the case of Mike Green with the Red Wings.

Or something more subtle, like asking Curtis Glencross “Did you get new glasses?” when you see him on a PTO with the Maple Leafs … but can’t even seem to find a photo of him as a Maple Leaf invitee.

So, here’s a photo and video round-up of Caps from last season, along with some other prominent ex-Caps, in strange new surroundings:

Mike Green, Red Wings

Mike Green practices with the Detroit Red Wings (Instagram @detroitredwings)

Mike Green practices with the Detroit Red Wings (Instagram @detroitredwings)

Green Life 52 is now Green Life 25, a number he was more familiar with while playing in Hershey.  Squeezed out from his contract and depth in the organization, Greenie gotta go.

Two to three seasons ago, Caps fans would be less disappointed if Green was traded, having his value somewhat decrease from injuries and the defensive mistakes he was making while his offense dipped. Last season, he really turned things around and we had to let him walk and not get anything in return. Godspeed on your Vespa, sir.

Troy Brouwer, Blues

Troy Brouwer [Video Screenshot: St. Louis Blues]

Troy Brouwer [Video Screenshot: St. Louis Blues]

The 2015 Winter Classic hero was traded in the offseason for T.J. Oshie and is also sporting No. 36 instead of No. 20 that he wore in D.C., because it’s worn by captain Alexander Steen.

Pheonix Copley, Blues

Mainly forgotten in the Brouwer/Oshie trade is goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley, who went from raw prospect to someone who could be a stud in the stable after his past season with Hershey.

Couldn’t find any good photos of Copley practicing, but we have his new pads, which is enough said for a goalie:

Michal Neuvirth, Flyers

Neuvy bounced around last year, splitting time with the Sabres and Islanders while dealing with injuries. Now he’s with yet another bitter Caps rival:

Eric Fehr, Penguins

Here’s a bowl full of awkward. Fehr scored in the 2011 Winter Classic against the Pens in Pittsburgh. Before he even landed in Pittsburgh, he stopped in Cincinnati to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play. The black and gold is striking enough even if it’s one of the other Steel City teams.

Because Fehrsie is rehabbing an injury (look at my shocked face), there aren’t any good photos of him on the ice other than this Sasquatch sighting:

Steve Oleksy, Penguins

Also joining the Dark Side is Steve “Binky” Oleksy, who mainly played with the Hershey Bears during his five years in the organization, managing to fit in over 60 games spread out over two seasons yet only saw one game with the Caps when Barry Trotz took over.

Joel Ward, Sharks

J. Randal Ward will always have a place in Caps lure for years to come and when he retires one day, I’m sure he will be welcomed with open arms back in D.C.

Wardo was the closest thing we had to Justin Williams before we got Justin Williams, scoring an OT GWG in Game 7 against the Bruins in 2012 and the amazing GWG with 1.3 seconds left in Game 1 against the New York Islanders.

He’s looking sharp in teal, especially in these throwback sweaters that will be worn in San Jose this year.

Alex Semin, Canadiens

Sasha Cares. At least on the first scrimmage of preseason. Semin, a sniper sorely missed in D.C., despite his perceived shortcomings. OK, a little soapboxing right now. Yes, he took a lot of slashing penalties. And he was hot and cold, but I remember another Cap great who had the same issues: Peter Bondra. /endrant.

After being bought out by the Hurricanes because he lost a step and didn’t buy in. From looking at how the Hurricanes played last year, a lot of guys didn’t buy in. Now he’s in Montreal on a one-year deal, wearing lucky No. 13.

And he’s sniping Carey Price in practice:

Tomas Fleischmann, Canadiens

Joining his one-time Caps line-mate in Montreal is Tomas Fleischmann, but Flash is in a tough spot. He’s on a pro tryout. Semin has a perception and baggage, but he has skill and proved he can pot 40 goals.

Flash is a good two-way player but the expectations always have been he should be producing more offense, whether that was in Washington, Florida, Colorado, Anaheim and now he has to prove it in Montreal. This is his sixth NHL Club, being drafted by the Red Wings.

Boyd Gordon, Coyotes

One of the Capitals who had to survive through the ugly rebuild, Gordon overcame groin injuries during his time in D.C., and was a face-off specialist until younger, cheaper options came through.

He’s returning for a second tour of duty in Glendale thanks to a trade from the Edmonton Oilers, which is probably the worst time to be traded from the Oilers given Connor McDavid is now on the team with essentially, an all-new team.

So again, Gordon plays on a team that is in the midst of the rebuild, does OK, and is dispatched before the team will get better. And now he’s on the very much so rebuilding Yotes.

Dishonorable Mention

Curtis Glencross, Maple Leafs

A trade-deadline acquisition from Calgary, he started off well in his first couple games then fell off a cliff. One-hundred percent bust, from regular season through the playoffs.

He went from scoring .58 points per game in Calgary to .38 with the Caps in 18 games. Then he was scratched in a few games in the playoffs, and scored one meaningless goal in 10 games.

Now, he’s on a PTO with the Maple Leafs. Not only couldn’t he find the net, a scoresheet or a team that wanted to sign him, I can’t find footage or photographic proof of him in Leafs attire at camp.

As much as the Caps wanted to forget his time here, nobody even wants to remember

Unsurprisingly, NHL arenas implementing walk-through metal detectors: Report

Considering the horrid shooting massacres the U.S. (and even Canada) has experienced over the years, it should not come as a surprise that NHL arenas are stepping up security.

The NHL is requiring walk-through metal detectors at all arena entrances this seasons, according to a report from the Edmonton Sun about Rexall Place getting the new equipment in its final season.

The most shocking news I read in all of this would have to be that in the same story about metal detectors coming to the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa, the Senators will ban smoke breaks for fans. Guess they don’t have a contained outdoor area?

[OK that bit and a post since thankfully removed on the Edmonton Journal’s website that the metal detectors are unnecessary was also shocking.]

It’s always been weird to me that this hasn’t already happened. Security at the MCI Center/Verizon Center was always weird to me. What I thought was odd was if you showed up really early to the game, you could walk in and line up without being patted down and wouldn’t have to be wand. After a certain time, the security would have tables set up at the front door and check bags and wand fans.

Having attended Tampa Bay Lightning games the past few years in Amalie Arena, it felt odd going through the metal detectors, but never felt inconvenienced because of the long steps leading from the plaza up to an outdoor deck before you get inside. I also remember BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., having metal detectors, and you have plenty of entrances and space to spread out where lines aren’t an issue. And yes, a lack of attendance helped there.

Not all arenas have the best entrance layout. Boston really sticks out for me because you enter through the train station, cram through one timed entry, then get to another checkpoint, continue up to the next level and finally get to another level up to your seats…in the lower bowl.

In addition to Tampa already having the metal detectors, San Jose brought the metal detectors to SAP Center in March 2014 while Calgary installed its metal detectors in April 2014.

This is the most sensible of policies and considering different security techniques, nobody should be whining, really. Well, you shouldn’t whine about the metal detectors, but definitely give the person in front of you grief for not being prepared. Just don’t bring loose change with you and if you can help it, don’t wear a belt. That’s two major time hang-ups.

Ladies, ditch the bag, too.

From what I could find online, teams that didn’t have metal detectors set up before and will this season include Columbus, Edmonton, MinnesotaNashville, OttawaPittsburgh, TorontoWashington and Winnipeg. I’m sure there are many more.

I’m surprised that at least as of 2012, none of the arenas around New York City used metal detectors except for Barclays Center, where the Islanders will start playing.

Honestly, it wouldn’t have mattered around NYC because fans just assault each other with their fists on a nightly basis. If you’re lucky, you might get a beer shower, too.

‘Slap Shot’ Ghosts Alive in Western Pennsylvania rink

The Ice Mine in Leisenring, Pa., just south of Connellsville, features an Olympic ice sheet and seats about 4,000 people.

The Ice Mine in Leisenring, Pa., just south of Connellsville, features an Olympic ice sheet and seats about 4,000 people.

As Johnstown, Pa., readies to celebrate its Hockeyville title and bring back the ‘Slap Shot’ stars for some Old Time Hockey, another Western Pennsylvania ice rink could easily have played a starring role in the cult classic.

I love playing in rinks I’ve never been to before, which led me to The Ice Mine in Dunbar Township, Pa., just south of Connellsville, Pa., where an Amtrak train takes you to Pittsburgh and points west.

This small town, Leisenring, is off of U.S. 119, 15 minutes north of Uniontown. It’s about an hour south of Pittsburgh and Johnstown, nestled in between.

If there was ever to be another rink that could represent a Johnstown Chiefs feel and story, a place where the ghost of Ogie Oglethorpe and Reggie Dunlop would appear, it’s here in Leisenring.

The rink’s story includes embezzlement, relocated teams, large rats, missing equipment and at last, hope.

The first time I drove there from Frostburg, Md., I thought Google Maps was playing a trick on me. After heading north out of Uniontown on a state road, I’m directed to go on this rolling, winding road through farms. It’s two-way and paved, but it doesn’t feel like I’m going to be approaching an ice rink.

Typically you’ll find rinks either in a recreational park setting, a commercial shopping center or an industrial park.

The Ice Mine is nowhere in particular.

The Ice Mine

The Ice Mine in Leisenring, Pa., just south of Connellsville, is surrounded by farmland on a rural road. Across the street is a a former “patch town” that is a tiny subdivision.

It’s between farm land and right across a tiny subdivision community called Leisenring, which includes a bed and breakfast that was once home to a coal mining boss for H.C. Frick & Co., a powerful coke mining company. That in itself is funny considering the town bears the name of another powerful coal family. (E.B. Leisenring died in 2011 at age 85.) The subdivision was probably a patch town at one time, where a coal company would build homes for their workers.

(Technically the rink is in Leisenring, but it’s advertised as Connellsville and people just say Connellsville since more people can see it on a map.)

Western Pennsylvania is definitely hockey country, but you’d still think an ice rink would be plopped down somewhere more conspicuous. Still, there’s enough people who drive here to support high school hockey, youth hockey, figure skating and more.

When you roll up to the rink, you see this giant purple warehouse structure that seems way too big for where it’s at. It’s a cinderblock paradise, but it also holds a roller rink and a fitness gym.

I didn’t really know where to park, or where to enter, not knowing where the ice rink began and the roller rink and gym began.

The Ice Miners

I entered through doors in the far left where signs point to a sales office for the Keystone Ice Miners, a Tier II junior hockey team out of the North American Hockey League—where the Johnstown Tomahawks also compete.

Before I dive into the building, let’s veer off and talk about the Ice Miners, whose story is similar to those lowly Johnstown Chiefs.

The team relocated and was renamed, coming from Port Huron, Mich., as the Fighting Falcons. Its owner, Maribeth Hayes, gave up and the team disbanded after the 2014-2015 season.  (Granted, teams relocate because of troubles, but why here?)

The Ice Miners managed to make national hockey news during its only season in Pennsylvania. In a bittersweet story, players were chronicled in a story picked up by the Associated Press about billet families.

Just as bittersweet, Puck Daddy wrote about how the team won a 20-round shootout on the same night its owners said they’re quitting and withdrawing from the league. I’m sure there’s more to that than what’s published, but here’s the video from the marathon shootout that can give you a feel for the rink:

It’s sad that the team is gone so soon, especially when you walk into the rink and see a room adorned with the team’s logo that looks to be used for press conferences. The sales desk area unlocked, bare save for a few empty cubicles.

The team’s logo still appears around the facility, almost like, “hey, remember that time we had a junior hockey team? We’ll just leave this here until another one comes to us.”

The Building

As I move past the sad greetings of a team that moved away just months ago, the old junior hockey box office area isn’t being used. To pay, I should have gone in the middle entrance, but from where I’m at inside, the desk feels like it’s a quarter mile away, past the rink and in the middle of the complex.

It’s during this death march when I get to take in the place in awe, once I enter the ice arena itself from the north lobby.

It’s the tallest roof I’ve see for an amateur hockey arena, with bleachers rising up on two sides of the rink, to pack in about 4,000 people to enjoy goon hockey. The sheet here is an Olympic surface, which is increasingly rare these days. You almost have to put in an Olympic sheet because the space is so big.

The compressor doesn’t feel like it’s working all that much, granted it is August. Looking around the edges of the boards, ice separates in a few spots, signalling more cooling troubles and really, a danger zone. I guess that orange “head’s up” stripe is really to tell you you’re about to take out your knee from a hole in the ice instead of ramming into the boards.

The boards had nice play on the puck, but once you sit on the benches, you can see how run down and rusty the joists are.

The glass from goal line to goal line is surprisingly low. This is as low as some NHL arenas, maybe even shorter. Even more surprised that area doesn’t have safety netting because of the low glass.

Peering down the far end of the ice, high school-aged kids practiced in a fog. No, they didn’t have a concussion. A haze covered the ice thanks to the hot August day, faulty refrigeration equipment and lack of insulation to keep the place cold. I’m sure on a hotter day this place looks like the famous Fog Game at the old Auditorium in Buffalo when the Sabres lost to the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The dank rink with its musky smell and the sad look on the teens’ faces that manage the snack bar brings a charm to this place. In terms of a dive bar, this is a dive rink. And I love it. Mostly.

The Ice Mine rink near Connellsville PA

The Ice Mine in Leisenring, Pa., just south of Connellsville, features an Olympic ice sheet and seats about 4,000 people.

The imperfections quickly show beyond that. After I suited up in my goalie gear, I went to fill up my water bottle to the water fountain outside the room. It just trickles out water, and it looks like I’d get tetanus from drinking from it. The faucet in the bathroom is motion detected and you don’t have enough room to get water into your bottle.

So in goalie gear and skates, I waddle over to the concession area to fill up my bottle. It felt like a five minute walk in skates. (Lesson learned: fill up the bottle first in the lobby.)

One of the guys told me when I was getting dressed that I might want to consider keeping my skate guards on until I get to the bench. The locker rooms and hallways don’t have rubber flooring to protect your edges, and bolts in the floor are exposed, potentially nicking your blades.

Thanks to the heat, I’m nearly doubled over in exhaustion playing about an hour’s worth of hockey. I always wondered what Chris Chelios felt like when he rode an exercise bike in a sauna. Goalie gear in a hot rink is the equivalent.

So, why is this place so pungent and lacking in function?

Started From The Bottom

That’s because the function was taken away in a hurry by the former owner.

The rink has only been called The Ice Mine since 2010.

Before that it was called Divito Park, and was abandoned by its owner Douglas Corteal when the bank came calling for its money. In 2013, he was accused of stealing a four-sided 32-foot scoreboard, restaurant equipment, and much more, according to The Daily Courier, which is part of Trib Total Media:

Those items included the scoreboard and curfew clock, scissor lift, public announcement systems, office equipment, a conference table, black light bulbs, eight speakers for the DJ system, four racks for skates, three commercial sinks, cooking and catering equipment, service items, a lawn mower, forklift, transformer for events, lighting and a fog machine for the DJ system, HD projector screen, a fryer, a walk-in cooler, hood system, facility table and chairs and exterior signs and lighting.

This much is true: all of that is gone.

Why this was considered theft is because a bank—the victim—repossessed the rink and the assets inside were being used as collateral for the next owner. But the charges were dropped by a district judge mainly from a lack of proper paperwork outlining the inventory and who owned and sold what and when.

It’s clear by the condition the man left the building and that he sold essential items for an ice rink to operate, he did not have the best of intentions because the equipment was sold to one of his other companies he owned, Trib Media reported, and subsequently sold afterwards. Court documents show in 2009, Corteal listed Divito Park as a restaurant operation, which he filed bankruptcy on.

The paper also said the owner damaged the place. Players I talked to said the place was trashed. Just looking at the place with your own eyes, you can see someone was out to gut the place.

Rental skates and other equipment piled high in the locker room, probably to hide them so he can get them out the door to sell, one player said. Rats as big as footballs had to be exterminated, too, one player told me.

So, the bank and the group managing it are doing their best to get by, given they had to replace so much. Not everything has been replaced or fix in the five years since it reopened.

The shower floors are a fungus factory, restroom stalls have shower curtains instead of doors, boards and rusting joints look like they need to be replaced, and they don’t even have a functioning website.

If you want to know the schedule, you have to wait for it to be posted on Facebook. Want a response? Nobody will reply on Facebook but if you ask if the place is being sold, they will delete your comment like they did to me.

I tried calling the place several times, and the phone endlessly rings. Doesn’t go to voicemail, doesn’t prompt to a menu with a schedule.

It’s clear the management is working on a shoe string budget. They’re certainly inventive in bringing in revenue for the whole building. The place regularly hosts wrastlin’ matches, so much so that if you search for the Ice Mine in Connellsville on YouTube, the majority of the videos are from wrestling and not hockey.

This past weekend, I stopped by for hockey and I walk into the lobby where guys in glittery tights are walking around with boots as they hang out after or before their match. I walk toward the locker rooms on the other side of the building and an employee tells me to avoid Locker Room 3 because one of the wrestlers is taking a shower and brought a girl in with him. Now, that may sound like a hot fantasy, but the locker room would give you more diseases than a night of strange.

Where to now

That said, ice rinks are hard to make a profit on and this one has an uphill battle. It can’t open for summer tournaments and camps because the ice is dangerous when it’s warm outside. When it’s cool during the day, the ice is great. A soft pass can easily ice the puck here.

Really, this rink could use a GoFundMe page to get donations in to fix it up. The Cambria County War Memorial, winner of $150,000 from the Kraft Hockeyville contest, needed so much more than the winning money to fix the basics.

Before the contest was settled, the rink received $600,000 in government money to replace the floor under the ice, which can’t be repaired until next summer.

The contest forced the hand of the rink’s board and community to get necessary items to host a NHL preseason game. Another $200,000 was approved to get the following, according to the Tribune-Democrat:

The budgeted tab includes up to $130,000 for a new scoreboard, $50,000 for used boards and glass, $26,000 for a compressor and $5,324 for safety netting.

The rink is also receiving energy efficient arena lighting that will enable the game to be easily seen on broadcast TV, thanks to Constellation Energy, and is being paid back through credits. The release also mentions workers are also upgrading the youth hockey locker rooms.

In all, Johnstown is getting $1 million in upgrades over the next year thanks to Hockeyville, both directly and indirectly because of the community stepping up and donating time, materials or just money to get more improvements.

Just eyeballing what the Ice Mine would need for a non-NHL quality experience, they also could use a $26,000 compressor, $50,000 boards, donated lighting, safety netting along the sides, a $130,000 scoreboard since their last one vanished under questionable circumstances, and probably about at least $10,000 for rubber flooring for the locker rooms and hallways leading to the rink, and another $10,000 to $20,000 for plumbing and bathroom repairs. I’m sure additional insulation would help on the inside of the roof to help keep the cold air in, too. Oh god, I haven’t even thought about repairs to the Olympia ice resurfacer. That brush has seen better days.

It’s doubtful that Hockeyville would award a rink an hour from Johnstown the award the following year. Maybe in a four-year window, but the costs will only rise.

Maybe it’s time for the area to band together and get the rink fixed now to rid itself of a lot of its problems.

However, the ghosts of Slap Shot can stay.

The rink will always have its imperfect charm and even with its upgrades, you’ll get that Old Time Hockey feel being in the middle of farmland playing hockey in a huge warehouse.

I want to learn more about this rink and its odd history. I’ll continue asking folks at the rink about it, but if you have any stories, share in the comments.