Manitoba

Broken ice plant has girls' hockey association rushing to find practice rinks

The head of a Winnipeg girls' hockey association says she's scrambling to find alternative rinks for teams in her area thanks to a broken ice plant at the community arena.

Ice machine at Notre Dame Arena in St. Boniface broken as start of pre-season looms

The ice machine at the Notre Dame Arena in St. Boniface gave out before the start of this fall's hockey season. (Rudy Gauer/CBC)

The head of a Winnipeg girls' hockey association says she's scrambling to find alternative rinks for teams in her area thanks to a broken ice plant at the community arena.

The ice-making plant at the Notre Dame Arena in St. Boniface has been ailing for years, and finally gave out before the start of this fall's hockey season, said Teri Moffatt, chair of Winnipeg East Female Hockey.

Now she's running out of time to find other places for the teams scheduled to start their pre-season practices on Aug. 26.

"I have probably 50 ice times scheduled in September at Notre Dame Arena that aren't going to be able to happen now," said Moffatt.

"I have a lot of very concerned parents and concerned players that are feeling that this is going to be very difficult for them."

The ice machine at the Notre Dame Arena in St. Boniface has been ailing for years. (Rudy Gauer/CBC)

Moffatt said it's tough to find ice time in the city. She's got calls in to rinks in Transcona and the Southdale Arena, and is looking as far afield as rinks in Ile-des-Chenes, Man., and Landmark.

"I'm hoping that our players will be driving more but … that we'll be able to find enough ice, but I seriously doubt it," she said. "I think that we'll just have to cut out practices. Kids won't be on the ice as much."

'This is a critical thing'

Three years ago, Moffatt said she helped the arena pen a letter to the City of Winnipeg informing officials of the problem.

Last year, the community centre in charge of the rink received $50,000 to commission a study on replacing the aging plant, according to a spokesperson for St. Boniface Coun. Matt Allard. That report has since been completed, the spokesperson said.

"We were made aware of this urgent problem yesterday and are in contact with city staff and the community centre to discuss this issue and potential solutions, as well as looking into potential funding sources," the spokesperson wrote in an email.

A city spokesperson said officials will meet with arena representatives next week.

Moffatt said she's worried that if teams don't get a chance to practise, young players won't have as much fun or develop as quickly as other kids.

For high-level players, she said, less practice time could pose a challenge as they compete for spots on university teams.

"I do know city funds are tight but this is a critical thing," she said. "And we really need to address it, and now."