Boards upgrade hampers hockey

Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2005

After 22 years of hockey players slamming one another into the boards at the Soldotna Sports Center, the dasher boards have finally had enough.

The boards, which encircle the hockey ice at the sports center, have been pulled out and are being replaced this month with modern polyethylene panels topped with tempered glass, at an approximate cost of $136,000.

The installation is expected to be complete and hockey play should resume by Oct. 3, according to Andrew Car-michael, Soldotna Parks and Recreation director.

Some area hockey players have expressed displeasure that the work is being done in September, during the hockey season, but Carmichael said September is the month that has the lowest amount of activity for the Parks and Rec Department and the month that will have the least impact on the community.

The department, which sees an annual revenue of $935,000, brings in a mere $10,000 from the sports center in September.

"Historically September revenue only pays the electric bill," Carmichael said.

He said the issue wasn't whether to do the dasher boards replacement work in September, but whether it would be last September, this September or next September.

The Soldotna City Council approved the expenditure as part of the city's budget in mid-July this year.

During September, only four teams are skating, according to Carmichael.

Those players, known collectively as the "comp teams," are scheduling games in Homer and Anchorage during the month.

Included are the Midgets — teams that are required to get in a certain number of games before the beginning of the high school hockey season, which starts in late October.

"They will have the weekend of Oct. 8 and the following weekend," Carmichael said. "The high school season starts right after that."

If Parks and Rec waited until October to do the work, ice users that would have been im-pacted include three high school teams, the men's league teams, women's league teams, the learn-to-skate program, house teams and figure skaters, according to Car-michael.

Between hockey seasons, the sports center plays host to such events as the Home Show, the Sports Show, the Gun Show, the Camping Show and two high school graduation ceremonies.

The old dasher boards, which have been removed, were made of plywood backing and polyethylene facing, with Lexan see-through panels above, supported by metal uprights.

Constant impacts from hockey players, as well as moisture that caused laminates to separate, took their toll. Metal uprights also were bent.

The new boards are all polyethylene on the bottom with tempered glass above. Due to the design and the rigidity of the glass, no metal uprights are used. The tempered glass offers less breakage and stays cleaner, according to Carmichael.

He expects the new system to last more than 20 years.

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