The new ice rink in Keene, also known as Keene ICE, will begin construction this month and looks to be ready by Oct. 15, 2015, according to an earlier Equinox report. The new building be located next to the Keene Police Department.
This facility will provide the Keene State College club hockey teams with better accommodations and easier access.
Sam MacNicoll, KSC junior and member of the men’s club hockey team, said this new facility could “significantly benefit the teams and the community.” He explained that the rink would be in closer proximity to the campus, providing easier access. He stated, “I might be able to get to my classes on time.”
In addition, KSC junior Caroline Hird, president of the women’s ice hockey club program, said, “I believe a lot of people are pushed away from hockey because our facility is so bad.” This new facility, she explained, will attract more KSC fans to the rink and more people will be drawn to support the program.
Lauren Roche, a sophomore at KSC and another member of the women’s ice hockey club team, said she hopes the conditions and the ice quality will be better.
She added, “It might attract more fans as well.” Along with those facts, Hird said since the rink would be public it might be harder to find ice time, since the team already has to plan around classes and normally gets pretty poor times.
Hird continued to explain that it will be positive for the town because more people will be drawn in for the facility.
In addition, MacNicoll said this new facility could possibly mean the KSC club teams could be turned into varsity programs and draw more crowds to the games.
Hird agreed with the possibility for the club teams to turn into varsity programs, but said it would take more numbers because the team has only been in existence for three years and this is their first year in a league. Additionally, MacNicoll said, “Many programs can be put in place, such as programs teaching kids to play, further expanding the sport — figure skating groups, stick-and-puck time and free skates for everyone in the community.”
Currently, MacNicoll said the team plays at the Cheshire Fairgrounds, also known to players as “the barn.”
“The conditions are less than ideal — it’s always freezing, especially at our six a.m. practices, and there are no showers and it seems to be falling apart,” MacNicoll said. MacNicoll continued to say that the people who take care of the rink use makeshift ways to repair things, which barely fixes the problems.
At the beginning of the year, he said the teams used Cushing Academy’s facility, which is in Ashburnam, Massachusetts. Hird said the current facility is basically outdoors because it is so cold. She explained she would describe it as “very rundown” and “pretty poor quality.”
Roche explained, “It’s cold, the ice isn’t the best and it’s kind of like pond hockey.”
According to Hird, the rink time costs $200 per hour. Hird also said practices are limited because they only get an hour per practice and they get pretty poor times during the day.
However, Hird stated that she doesn’t believe the price would change that much once the new facility is put in place.
She said the team has some games at a facility in Winchendon and the prices there are about the same as “the barn.”
According to Hird, her coach Drew Arsenault said the facility could be ready by October 2015.
Jeff Lunn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org