"Wait 'til next year" became the new motto for the Just For Fun Hockey League. As of December 5, only one player indicated an interest in the opportunity and, according the the program's organizers, "One ain't enough" to make the program happen.
The program was originally scheduled to start on Sunday, November 20, at 7:00 PM in the Essentia Duluth Heritage Center’s (EDHC) Seitz Arena but, because no one registered for the program, the start-up was delayed until after the holidays.
According to ESDC president, Jerry DeMeo, the delay didn't help. " We're just not getting any interest.", said DeMeo. "We still think there are youth that will want to participate in a program like this, so we'll put it on the shelf for now and bring it out again next year."
A "First Timer" gets a skating assist from one of the 60 UMD athletes on hand for the party
On Tuesday, December 6, over 150 youth & their familes from Laura MacArthur school and their K.E.Y Zone program gathered in Seitz Arena to interact with 60 men & women athletes from UMD, including UMD's mascot, Champ, for a skating/pizza party.
Volunteers from UMD's various athletic programs helped the kids lace up their skates and then aided the "first timers" to make their way around the ice. After skating, the entire group traveled over to the Clyde Iron Restaurant for pizza & refreshment.
The skating party was made possible through a collaboration of the City of Duluth Parks & Recreational Department, who provided the skates, and the Duluth Heritage Sports Center Foundation, who made the ice available.
Judging from the smiles on the faces of the youth, the adults and the athletes, it was a memorable event for all.
On Wednesday, Nov. 23, youth from the Piedmont Elementary Schools 1st grade got a break from the classroom for a new phy ed experience...ice skating.
For many of the kids, this was their first time on ice skates. They got this chance thanks to the efforts of both teachers and parents who wanted to put a new spin on keeping kids physically active. The activity also included a surprise visit from UMD's mascot Champ who participated in the skating while affording many photo-ops.
Skates were furnished for those who didn't have them courtesy of the City of Duluth Parks & Recreation Department. The EDHC also chipped in, offering the ice free of charge.
The kids thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity and it is expected that other schools may soon follow.
EDHC ice technicians Jason Maken (left) and Troy Sager put the finishing touches on the Seitz ice.
During the week of September 19, Seitz Arena was once more converted from being the area's only indoor synthetic turf facility to rejoin the ranks of ice arenas. The Gary-Morgan Park youth program were again the inaugural users, as they hosted their annual Chris Johnson 3 on 3 Tournament for bantams and pee wees on September 23-25.
Visitors to Seitz Arena will readily note the new appearance at center ice, with the "Essentia Duluth Heritage Center" logo in place. In June , 2016, Essentia Health became the naming rights sponsor for the entire Duluth Heritage Sports Center facility prompting the redesign of the center ice logos.
The turf meanwhile was being relocated to its "winter" home in the DECC's Pioneer Hall, where it will be used for lacrosse and soccer from November 7 thru mid-February. Those interested in renting the turf may obtain information on rates & schedules by contacting the EDHC Business Office or on line at www.essentiaduluthheritagecenter.com.
Tom Kowalik & Tom Francisco "play" with skid steer machines as they remove the ice from Sill Arena. The use of the machines was donated by Northern Engine & Supply Co. and Twin Ports Aerial Service. The new ice surface is shown in the photos above
It's been customary for our ice maintenance team to wait until the month of September to "turn the ice" on Sill Arena but this year, with all of our hockey camps taking off the week of July 4th, it provided a window of opportunity to remove the old ice and install a new sheet in July. This means that when September comes, we'll be able to focus our attention on Seitz Arena, moving the turf and getting the ice ready for some early season hockey events.
For who those skate for recreation, not much attention is paid o the condition of the ice but the best skaters are "ice connoisseurs" who can readily distinguish good ice from bad. Quite often, we hear that the ice at the DHSC is as good as the best ice they've ever seen...anywhere. The credit for this goes to our talented and dedicated bunch of ice maintenance technicians who truly feel that "good enough" simply isn't good enough. They want our ice to be the best it can be and they work to make it that way.
Tom Kowalik, Arena Manager, gives the lion's share of the credit to his crew. "Our Arena team has really bought in to what we're trying to do here with our ice.", he commented. "They understand the process and are willing to do whatever is necessary to keep the ice in peak condition."
Tom said that scheduling enough time to keep the ice maintained between events is also important. "We can work all night to get the ice in perfect condition but when it's used all day, we need time between events to provide proper resurfacing, especially when the older players are skating." he said. "It's also important that we all follow the same protocols when resurfacing the ice with the Zambonis."
To be sure that tenants share their opinion on the condition of the ice, Tom will be conducting random interviews with team coaches to obtain their comments. "We may be really proud of our work, but what really counts is what our customers think!"
“There were so many stars on the ice that you could have turned the arena lights off and still needed sunglasses”.
That comment came from a fan as he was leaving Sill Arena after watching Team Bordson, led by team captain Rob Bordson, eke out a 3-2 overtime victory over Team Krause and its leader, Adam Krause, in the 2016 Heritage Summer Hockey Classic.
44 current professional, collegiate and junior hockey players, including 4 women, gathered at the Essentia Duluth Heritage Center (EDHC) on Monday, June 27, to display their talents to raise money for the Ray Peterson Heritage Fund. The Fund helps financially challenged youth to participate in sporting activities or who aspire for higher educational opportunities or seek vocational training.
The teams were coached by former UMD greats Keith “Huffer” Christiansen (Team Krause) and Pat Francisco (Team Bordson), but the team leaders were responsible for selecting the 22 player rosters. They made their selections from among the player pool using a draft process to keep the teams as equal as possible. The result was 50 minutes of up & down action, in a game with no body checking or slap shots. The contest ended in a 2-2 tie and it took three overtime periods before UMD’s Ashleigh Briykaluik scored the game winner.
The game protocol called for one overtime period, followed by a shootout but the teams decided that they wanted to keep playing until one of them emerged victorious. “We were having too much fun”, commented Bordson. “ No one wanted a game like this to end in a shootout and we were ready to play until one team won. Having four lines and 8 defense kept us from getting tired.”
EDHC president Jerry DeMeo said he couldn’t recall the last time he enjoyed a hockey game so much. “These young people weren’t playing for job security.” commented DeMeo. “They were skating for the fun of it, taking chances, making fancy passes and otherwise making moves that might have gotten them benched in their normal roles. “
The game was also a crowd-pleaser. The action was fast, the passing was accurate, with stellar defensive play and rock-solid goal tending.
“This was probably the best collection of hockey talent that we’ll see on one sheet of ice in Duluth this year.” said DeMeo. “If you claim to be a hockey fan and didn’t see this game, you really missed something!”
Duluth's most notable hockey player recently added another "trophy" to his collection...this time it's a world record!
Mark Sertich, at the age of 93 years, 11 months and 27 days was recently acknowledged as the oldest hockey player ever to play competitive hockey. Just 3 days prior to celebrating is 94th birthday, Sertie skated regular shifts with the Continental 75's, a team that participated in the Snoopy's Senior World Hockey Tournament and by doing so, carved a niche in hockey history that may only be exceeded by Mark himself.
Sertie appeared on national television during the outdoor hockey game between the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks. As a guest of the Wild, he was interviewed between periods by former Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick, who asked Mark why he wasn't playing golf like others many other senior former athletes. Sertie's response was that he had never played golf but "always intended to take up the sport when he was done playing hockey. He just hasn't got there yet!"
Mark Sertich can usually be found 2 or 3 days a week participating in the 8 o'clock skate with those much younger than him. But, as the date for the 2016 Snoopy's tournament nears (July 17), he'll likely add a day or two to that schedule.
He wants to be in top skating form as he gets set to raise the age bar for hockey as a "life sport" even higher!