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Hockey Tradition Continues in Rugby

By Staff | Nov 6, 2015

Hockey captures the essence of life in North Dakota. In an area so inescapably and unforgivingly cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the chill of winter for those moments playing on the ice we are alive and having fun.

The tradition of Hockey is alive and well in Rugby because of the dedicated work of a group of volunteers who make up the Rugby Amateur Hockey Association and who work effortlessly to make it happen.

Part of the revitalization of hockey was to bring the Al Wentz Arena back to its prior glory and with the help of a giving community and countless volunteer hours the Al Wentz Arena is brighter, better insulated and has better flooring for ice after a year long renovation project.

“It was just time to reinvest,” board member Marques Stricker said. He continued, “We were hoping to make it more attractive and give our kids an all-around better place to play and by all accounts we have done just that. We are always striving for upgrades to make it safer for our kids. The investments in the last two years have roughly been over $125,000 dollars for the facility. That could not have been done without all the excellent volunteers and the overwhelming community support we have received”.

One of the main issues with the ice rink was the floor itself; that is no longer a problem. According to Stricker, “We are done with the floor and that was probably a $70,000 dollar project. Before, it was so uneven. In some areas you had eight inches of ice, and in other areas you may have four inches of ice it made skating and maintaining more difficult.” Other renovations done were an upgrade in the cooling system and the addition of a better insulated ceiling.

The reason for all this work is simple it is for the kids, reflected Stricker, whose organization does not only wants to make the Al Wentz Arena a place for accomplished skaters to ply their skills but wants it to be a beacon where those who never have been on ice to come and learn to skate. That is why they have started a “Learn to Skate” class every Wednesday that started November 4th from 5:30 p.m. -6:45 p.m.

It is a class where you can learn basic balance and skating skills in a fun introductory atmosphere. According to their program the class is for ages three to Adult. This will allow children who want to participate in the local youth hockey leagues a place that they can start learning the fundaments of skating allowing them to eventually pursue that hockey dream. But, it is also for those who just want to be able to enjoy the occasional arena visit with family and friends, and not clean the ice with their backside. In addition, ice skating is a great way to have fun while staying physically fit. For more information or to register you can call Raquel at 701-537-3301.

For those parents who have kids who want to test their mettle on an Ice Hockey team they have up until the first week in December to register; so its not to late to get them involved.

According to one of the coaches, Keith Dibble, kids of all skating abilities are welcome. “It is a learning experience throughout the season”, said Dibble. Some of the divisions available to the youngsters are: Minnie Mytes which are six and younger, Mytes are eight and younger, Sports Program is ten and younger, Pee Wee’s are 12 and younger, and there is a 14 and younger team that will be playing in Bottineau.

If safety is a concern according to Dibble you can be assured that all the coaches go through USA Hockey mandated training, there is about four hours of training including concussion management. Dibble said, “I have been coaching for about 15 years now. It isn’t any different than any other sport. It isn’t as bad as people think it is; safety is a number one concern and we take it very seriously as coaches.”

Stricker and Dibble both wanted you to know that you shouldn’t let cost stop you. “We will work with the parents to see if we can get them outfitted if at all possible. This is for the kids and it means everything to us that they have a chance to participate if they want to.” Stricker concluded, “The hockey association is always welcoming donations to improve our facility and give our youth a better hockey experience, so get involved you are always welcome”

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