Ice skating season is right around the corner

Several improvements are underway at the rink
Lewistown Ice Skating Association
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
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Stephen Gruener (right) attempts to poke-check his opponent off the puck during the Open Air Classic hockey tournament at the Lewistown ice rink at Frank Day Park in January of this year Ṗhotos by Matthew Strissel

The 2020-21 ice skating season will be here before we know it.

Youth and adult hockey programs will be starting soon, and there is still time to sign up. Plans for the sixth annual Open Air Classic hockey tournament are underway.

The youth and adult hockey programs are growing every year, and the Open Air Classic has become so popular it has grown to two weekends (Jan. 1-3 for the recreation level; Jan. 8-11 for novices).

The plan is to start making ice sometime after the middle of November. Pray for cold.

While the rest of the ice skating community was enjoying summer passions, the Lewistown Ice Skating Association board was hard at work. (Don’t worry, board members all managed to pursue their summer passions, too.) The board met for a retreat in June to discuss and prioritize capital improvements. Based on those discussions and decisions, a number of improvements have already been made at the rink, with others in the works.

A 4-foot white strip was painted around the edge of the rink. This will save on ice white when building ice, and keep the edges from graying up when the sun hits and softens the edges. The hope is the white paint will help reflect more sunlight to keep the edges from softening.

There is also a new shade screen. Thanks to NorthWestern Energy, there are two more poles with a cable stretched between them across the northeast side of the rink. A shade screen will be hung that should protect the northeast corner of the rink, the corner lost whenever temperatures warm up and the sun is out.

One more benefit of the new poles is it will allow adjusting the lighting to better illuminate the rink at night. A shout out to Ryan Durbin for organizing this project.

One exciting development you will hear a lot about is the purchase of new dasher boards. New boards are long overdue, and fund raising is underway for their purchase, which will include player benches to be installed before the 2021-22 skating season. If interested in purchasing advertising to be put on the panels, contact Scott Kirsch or Bill Berg for details.

LISA has applied for a COVID mitigation grant and will be using those funds to help purchase two 12-by-24-foot sheds. The sheds will be customized to be used as additional changing/warming areas.

Due to social distancing requirements, the current Warming Hut is not capable of handling the number of skaters typically seen. This will give much needed space to accommodate the youth and adult hockey programs and special events, such as youth and adult tournaments and “Hockey till You Drop.”

Of course, raffle tickets will soon be on sale. There are another great slate of prizes.

The board is pleased to announce Jim Conner is the recipient of the 2020 “Friend of the Rink” Award and will become a member of the “Five Hole Club.” Many of you know that Jim has been an essential member of the skating community since LISA’s inception. He has been Mr. Reliable whenever a project needs to be done at the rink. Well-deserved recognition. Thanks Jim.

As excited as everyone is to get back in skates, this is a difficult time. With the ongoing COVID pandemic, life as normal is not possible. That will be true at the rink.

The board is committed to opening the rink and accommodating all programs and user groups. The plan is for Mother Nature to end the skating season, and not a COVID outbreak at the rink.

With that in mind, it is the board’s hope that all of you take the necessary precautions and follow the COVID Mitigation plan as adopted by LISA. LISA’s policy is based on recommendations from USA Hockey, County Health, DES, and the City of Lewistown.

First and foremost, if you do not feel well, stay home. The rules for the Warming Hut are as follows: 20-person maximum at any one time; masks required; maintain social distancing; 15 minute time limit.

Please come as prepared as possible to get on the ice. Spend as little time as necessary in the Warming Hut. Pack hand sanitizer in your gear bag. The new sheds will be used as overflow changing areas as needed. The maximum capacity for each shed will be 12 people. All other expectations will apply.

Spectators are encouraged to maintain social distancing around the rink.

Youth hockey and adult hockey will have additional expectations, of which you will be informed through those programs.

If you have been following the news, rinks and hockey programs have already been shut down around the country due to COVID outbreaks.

Having an outdoor facility gives an advantage over them, though. The board sincerely believes the rink can open and run and have a successful season, but your help and cooperation is needed.

In the interest of keeping the skating community better informed of happenings at the rink, board minutes will now be posted at the Lewistown Civic Center.

If you, or anyone you know, would like to get on the email list, please contact anyone on the board. Thank you, and see you on the ice.

LISA Board of Directors: Bruce Marsden, President; Jacques Rutten, Secretary; Scott Kirsch, Treasurer; Bill Berg, Past President; Dave Maier, Dusty Rixford, and Pete Smith.



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