The fight to keep the ice time

John
John Browne
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Some recreational leagues getting shutout of preferred hours

Just about everyone agrees there’s a desperate need for more ice arenas in St. John’s.
The growing demand for ice time has had some negative consequences on adult recreation hockey players and teams, according to Patrick Tyler.

Capital Hyundai Arena, formerly Prince of Wales Arena, is one of a handful of hockey rinks in the city that like some of the others, is privately-owned and showing its age. Many recreation hockey players, minor hockey and figure skating groups are citing a need for more rinks in St. John’s.

Tyler said he and his pals are among a growing group of rec hockey players “who are being frozen out of convenient ice time” at local arenas.

Tyler said that after a number of years of holding the same time slot at Feildian Gardens (11:30-12:30 Sunday mornings), “We were unceremoniously dumped with minimal notice and told that our ice time had been given to another party.”

He said the reason given for the change by Feildian Gardens management was based on a decision to give the time to, “a better customer.”

That decision, said Tyler, means an end to a more than a 20-year tradition of his group playing Sunday morning hockey.

“Given that we’ve always paid our bills on time and conducted ourselves responsibility, I don’t know how another customer can get ‘better’ than us,” he said.

“I can only conclude that money is at work here, more than simple rental fees can explain,” he added.

Tyler said since this happened to his group, he’s heard of a number of other groups who have suffered the same fate.

“I was told of one case where the group had held the same booking for 19 years.”

Tyler said he’s heard that it’s the various private hockey instructional programs are claiming the ice time.

In any case, he said, “The way rec hockey players and groups are being treated is shameful.”

Well-known local sports personality Bas Whelan told The Telegram months ago that the Mundy Pond Rec Hockey League, which has played out of Twin Rinks for over 30 years, was pushed back from its regular 6 p.m.-8:20 p.m. time slot Sunday nights to 9 p.m.-11:20 p.m. after their ice time was all of a sudden given to Avalon-Celtics minor hockey.

“That was very inconvenient for our guys who had to get up for work Monday morning,” said Whelan who added that he doesn’t understand why groups who are not paying taxes in St. John’s get priority over the capital city’s tax payers.

Since then, Avalon-Celtics has moved back to Rogers Bussey Arena and Mundy Pond was given its old time back, but told there’s no guarantee they’ll be given it after this year.

Twin Rinks manager Bonnie Evans said the facility’s “mandate” is to provide ice for the youth of the city, and that means minor hockey along with figure skating. She confirmed that’s the reason rec hockey groups have been pushed back up to two hours to accommodate the other programs.

Evans said there are plans for a $22-million, two-pad ice surface facility in Paradise next year, and that will alleviate some of the problem.

“But,” she noted, “CBR, for example, is bursting at the seams.

“Even with the new Paradise facility, I don’t see it opening up too much ice time here. It might mean late hours will become more available.”

New arenas have been built in recent years such as the Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay and Glacier 2 in Mount Pearl, but it hasn’t made much of a dent in opening up ice time in St. John’s, according to Evans.

She said minor hockey is always looking for more ice time for their house leagues, all-star leagues along with practices.

Evans also pointed out that six weeks are taken up in the summer (mid-July to the end of August) with Skate Canada Newfoundland and Labrador when skaters from across the province gather.

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Mundy Pond Rec Hockey League

Geographic location: Feildian Gardens, Rogers Bussey Arena, Torbay Mount Pearl

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  • seanoairborne
    December 05, 2013 - 14:40

    Whatever happened to going down to Quidi Vidi lake in the winter and playing hockey?Lot's of room there!I used to skate down there with my pals years ago and there was room enough for hundreds of folks to play hockey all at the same time and for as long as they wanted.After all,you are talking recreational here right?