Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Wheels more in motion for new U of Saskatchewan rink

Replacement for Rutherford still can’t come fast enough

Officials clean up fallen rust at the Rutherford Rink.
    The “rust break” will become a thing of the past.
    Anyone connected with the University of Saskatchewan has to be breathing a big sigh of relief that the ancient Rutherford Rink will be replaced in a more sooner than later time span.
    Last Thursday, Rutherford was the site for the public launch of the Home Ice Campaign, where U of S commerce and law graduate Merlis Belsher contributed $12.25-million to fund a new ice facility to replace the current home of the Huskies men’s and women’s hockey teams. The donation was the largest donation from an alumnus and individual in the university’s history.
    One day later, Lawrence and Patricia Rychjohn and Ian and Alice Van Norman donated $1-million to the campaign after a ground breaking ceremony for a new hotel development on campus.
    Thanks to those incredible gifts, $34-million has been raised for the new twin-ice facility, which will cost $41-million and be called Merlis Belsher Place. It will eventually be built south of the Field House. A picture of what the rink will look like drew good reviews at the launch and through circulation on social media.
    The only thing that would have made the launch announcement better would have been a ground-breaking ceremony for the new arena. That detail still helps a minor anxiety linger about the whole project.
The Huskies men's hockey team celebrate a goal at the Rutherford Rink.
    Even with that in mind, the campaign is only looking for the public to raise the remaining $7-million to complete everything. With $34-million already raised and legendary former Huskies men’s hockey head coach Dave King leading the charge, the new rink will be built. The question is only when?
    Since 1997 when then Huskies athletic director Ross Wilson said he was actively pursuing a new rink, it felt like the process to replace Rutherford had way too many stops and starts. One had to wonder if a new facility would ever be built, or it felt like the current facility that was built in 1929 would have to be condemned to get any more action under way.
    Those with long memories know the Physical Activity Complex on campus was built due to the fact the U of S’s Physical Education Centre was found to be no longer structurally sound in December of 1997. Within months of that discovery, the Physical Education Centre was demolished.
    When the Physical Activity Complex opened in 2003, it replaced Education Gym as the home of the Huskies basketball and volleyball teams.
    As far as the new rink front goes, there appears to be no stopping its inevitable construction now. When King became involved, you knew the will was there to get the project done.
    Belsher along with the Lawrence and Rychjohn families showed outstanding community minded leadership with their donations.
    The twin ice surfaces will provide ice time for the Huskies hockey teams, 900 students who play campus recreation hockey annually, 400 students and 140 faculty and staff for other recreational and academic purposes and Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association teams.
A sign for the Home Ice Campaign.
    The facility will have a 90-foot wide main surface, seating for 1,830 with the ability to expand to 2,310 spectators and flex space for events like convocations.
    In Rutherford, hockey games often have to be stopped, when a puck hits the ceiling causing rust from the beams to fall on to the ice. The rust has to be cleared off before play can resume, which caused the term “rust break” to become a norm.
    A new rink will put a thankful end to rust stoppages.
    Until the last $6-million is raised, there will be a bit of an anxious wait, but this time there is more certainty than ever of a positive end result.
    For those that want to donate to the Home Ice Campaign, they can do so by clicking here.

Hockey enforcers documentary to premiere in Saskatoon

    A documentary that explores the world of the hockey enforcer is set to open in Saskatoon, and it looks to be a good one.
    “Ice Guardians” is slated to be shown at the Remai Arts Centre at 6:30 p.m. on Monday. The film features some of the game’s most famous pugilists including Dave Schultz, Dave Semenko, Joey Kocur, Kelly Chase, Rob Ray and the late Derek Boogaard.
    In exploring the role of the enforcer, the premise of the movie is to show the human side of the men that took the ice to protect superstars like Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull. One of the observations was the fact enforcers wanted to make the NHL, but they didn’t think growing up they would live the dream by throwing fists.
    One of the players featured was former Philadelphia Flyers enforcer Riley Cote. Cote was the 19-year-old captain of the Prince Albert Raiders, when I covered that WHL team during the 2001-02 campaign.
    At that time, Cote was known for this toughness, which is a traditional trait you see coming from members of the Raiders. He won his share of fights in the major junior ranks.
    The Winnipeg product was also making a reputation for his offensive skill. During the 2001-02 campaign, Cote collected 28 goals and 23 assists in 67 regular season games along with 134 penalty minutes. He was in tremendous physical shape and had quite an impressive build.
    Cote was known for being a teddy bear. He wasn’t even tagged as the enforcer of the Raiders. One thought he would make the NHL as a power-forward type player like Keith Tkachuk.
    During the off-season months in 2002, Cote signed his first professional contract ensuring he wouldn’t be back for his overage season in Prince Albert. Soon, I was hearing stories that Cote was slugging it out in hockey’s minor professional ranks as an enforcer. He eventually made his NHL debut with the Flyers on March 24, 2007.
    He played in 156 career regular season games with the Flyers collecting one goal, six assists and 411 minutes in penalties. In 70 games in the 2007-08 campaign, Cote spent 202 minutes in the sinbin.
    During his NHL career, he was viewed as one of the Flyers best representatives out in the community, and he was always a fan favourite. Cote is one example that there is more to an enforcer type player than just getting into fights.
    For those that get to deal with the game on a regular basis, they find enforcers are usually the most personable guys on a hockey team. When it comes down to it, you end up thinking of them as just “boys.”
    You also find out a number of them are fairly intelligent and are well-versed in all sorts of subjects. The “Ice Guardians” documentary aims to show all these other characteristic of enforcers.
    Those that purchase a $100 VIP ticket will get to attend a reception before the movie at Milestones with Chase and Kocur, a question and answer session with NHLers after the film and an after party.
    General admission tickets are $45, which also gets you into the question and answer session and the after party.
    Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

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