It’s been well over a month since I last updated this blog, and that’s unusual for me.
It’s hard to keep pounding the keyboard when the progress or results you’d hope isn’t there. I’m not talking about clicks, but just movement on the hockey front.
And each day I’m further removed from my life in Florida, so quality updates are harder to come by. I’m trying to stay away from blogging about the Caps and Bolts because there’s such a crowded space there that I’m focusing on customer service at ice rinks, grassroots hockey and ice rink development.
I managed to see a Caps game on the road in Columbus that managed to inspire me despite the loss, and that’ll be an upcoming post.
That said, here’s what’s happening in my hockey world, for better or worse.
The hopes that 3v3 pond hockey would happen on this outdoor refrigerated rink has dwindled with the current manager. It’s just a weird situation where I just need more help from other people to break through.
Wisp Resort in McHenry, Md., is for various reasons suddenly not interested in pond hockey on its rink after receiving an initial OK from the resort manager. A manager in a smaller role that is inexperienced with rinks said no, solely based her decision on talking to the rink manufacturer.
I sent a detailed rebuttal, discussed options that could make it work along with revenue and it was a non-starter.
I started a petition on Change.org in hopes something could come for 2016-17 winter season. But I might just have better luck hoping for a manager experienced with rinks to take over that area. (Or ideally, someone else building a rink in the area. Just not that plastic synthetic crap.)
To my surprise, there are 20 supporters of the petition so far. From speaking to people both in person and online, I was surprised by their negative view of Wisp but I didn’t go into asking what made them feel that way. But at least this would be a way to earn some goodwill again in the community.
My pond hockey group — Frostburg-Cumberland-Deep Creek Hockey — was able to at least squeeze in one game with three of us on a pond in Finzel, Md., before the beast of a nor’easter dumped about three feet of snow here.
The section of Cranberry Swamp we played on was perfect for pond hockey. The water doesn’t keep a large depth and after three days of subfreezing temperatures it’s solid. The only thing we would need is more players, more daylight and enough energy to shovel the rest of the snow.
And when the snow storm passed through, there wasn’t any way any of us could get to that swamp or any other place to play. Now temperatures will reach into the 40s and maybe even low 50s for the next 10 days. That might have been our only shot at pond hockey for the season.
Elsewhere, a backyard rink popped up on the baseball diamond north of Chambersburg, Pa.
The Herald-Mail wrote about this basic outdoor rink at Greene Township Municipal Park that recently opened. Of course, the story was posted the day before the snowstorm leveled the region. And now that everyone is digging out, the ice is melting as we’re warming up.
I was semi-furious when I read about it because I haven’t heard anyone at the Hagerstown rink talk about it–maybe nobody there knew either. But worse, the paper reports that the township purchased the $4,000 kit three years ago and didn’t have the right people in place to use it to its maximum potential and get the word out.
Right now, the rink wasn’t allowing any “organized events.” To me, that means pond hockey, so it’s another bridge to cross when it either gets colder. Or probably for the 2016-17 season.
North Central Recreation Center
I haven’t seen any more changes or progress to scheduling at the often closed/seldom used Ebensburg, Pa., rink.
I’m being a bit patient with this as the new general manager is having to overhaul operations to the much larger and famous Cambria County War Memorial Arena and this community rink. These are publicly owned rinks managed by a private firm, SMG.
The manager, Steve St. John, hoped to hire people after the first of the year and that’s the part that can drag based on being able to find the right person and get approvals from his company. And then the blizzard happened. So, it could February until we see staff there at that rink and probably even later for noticeable changes as leagues will wind down their seasons by May.
Morgantown Ice Arena
The only way a schedule of pick-up and stick and puck will be posted online with enough notice is if I drive out and take photos of the schedule board. It’s just amazing to me that nobody at the rink or BOPARC can find an easy way to post a daily public schedule online.
More pictures continue to be posted at a few Florida ice rink projects.
The Florida Hospital Center Ice rink in Wesley Chapel is moving along after a slow start. Seeing a frame is good enough for me but the excitement really doesn’t set in until you see the finished product. I don’t see any way that the Lightning will continue to practice in Brandon after this is built.
And at the original Lightning practice rink, the Clearwater Ice Arena also posted photos of its expansion project. I think once the new rink opens, people will be asking for them to close the original part to have that area redone. I don’t know how you can make that happen because you need more space for the benches and the end zones.
I have not seen a single photo of progress of the Orlando Hockey Center in Winter Gardens, Fla., which is supposed to become the practice rink of the ECHL Orlando Solar Bears.
The website, http://orlandohockeycenter.com, is still a splash image.
The last article written was in May 2015 with the Orlando Sentinel’s GrowthSpotter reporting that there wasn’t a timeline for construction, let alone a groundbreaking despite the project already receiving municipal approval. Did funding go sideways? Is ownership potentially changing, leading to a move of the Solar Bears? Those are just two of the obvious reasons this project could be delayed. And of course, 100 more reasons why it’s not being built yet.
I spotted a couple of tweets from Solar Bears fans wondering about an update and CC’d GrowthSpotter for more.
For Sports Maryland is changing its awkward name to the slightly less awkward but more sensible East Coast Hockey and Skating Supplies. Why can’t it just be East Coast Hockey Supply?
The pro-shop, which had locations at the Ice Gardens in Laurel, Md., and Rockville (Md.) Ice Arena recently opened in the Chilled Ponds Ice Arena in Chesapeake, Va., which is in the Virginia Beach area. Thus the Maryland part isn’t needed anymore.
The company posted on Facebook that the name change is effective Feb. 1.
In national hockey retailer news, the parent company of Bauer purchased Easton Hockey from an equity group this month in what ended a dramatic period where an ex-chairman of Bauer tried to oust the company CEO because of disagreements with the company’s strategy. Some of that strategy included opening Bauer Experience retail stores.
I could see some of that reasoning of not agreeing with the opening of Bauer stores, especially in a retail environment that is moving more online. But with a nice product like this, it would be helpful to have the company that makes the gear to train employees directly to sell the gear because of the fitting that needs to be done and warranty questions.
Gear reps typically visit pro shops to educate employees on new products but not all the employees are there at larger stores and couple that with turnover, then you’re getting second-hand information that could be lost in translation.
I’ll expand on the Bauer-Easton deal and the landscape of equipment manufacturers in a future post.