Fire damages Viking arena; Sutter memorabilia saved

The hockey arena where the Sutter brothers learned the game of hockey up on their way to the NHL, was severely damaged in a fire Wednesday.

The famed arena in Viking Alta., where the Sutter brothers learned the game of hockey on their way to the NHL, was severely damaged in a fire Wednesday night.

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the blaze at the Carena – so named because the community raffled off a car to raise the money to build it in the early 1950s.

But the mayor and a handful of residents were able to rescue the town's hockey history from its place in the lobby, removing pictures, books and jerseys, including those of the six Sutter brothers who grew up in Viking and went on to play professional hockey and who are still involved in the sport today.

Darryl, 46, coached the Calgary Flames to the Stanley Cup final last spring, while 48-year-old Brian was head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Duane, 44, is director of player development for the Florida Panthers. Brent, 42, is GM-coach of the WHL's Red Deer Rebels and coached Canada to the world junior title this year.

Twins Rich and Ron, 41, are both scouts for the Minnesota Wild and Flames, respectively.

Mayor Garry Wolosinka says they were fortunate the fire started in the north end of the arena, where the ice surface is, while the memorabilia was displayed at the south end.

"Once the fire chief got the door open and cleared out the smoke, we were able to go in and retrieve the sweater displays, pictures," Wolosinka said, adding pictures of the town's senior team, the Gas Kings, date back to the 1950s, while minor hockey team photos, "with a lot of the Sutter boys," go back to the 1970s.

"Buildings can be replaced, memorabilia can't be replaced."

Wolosinka says the arena will be rebuilt, but he's uncertain whether it'll ready for the next hockey season.

"Losing a season of hockey in this town is going to be tough," Wolosinka said.

"It's quite a loss," added town administrator Rod Krips. "[The arena] the focal point of any community."