Ice scheduling being accommodated as availability allows

With Sylvan Lake’s hockey rink capacity reduced by half, many people in the community and outside are rallying to overcome the challenge.

With Sylvan Lake’s hockey rink capacity reduced by half, many people in the community and outside are rallying to overcome the challenge.

“Other towns have stepped up big time,” said Graham Parsons Tuesday morning. “All the offers coming in are tremendous. When something like this happens everyone is willing to step up.”

He noted Sylvan provided similar support to Red Deer earlier this year scheduling four practices here when the Kinsmen arena was unavailable.

“The response has been tremendous — and the condolences, holy, it’s like a funeral.”

Parsons faced a double challenge for hours Monday, when he was unable to get into his office to retrieve his schedules and computer.

After a structural engineer viewed the arena, he was allowed into the front of the building for a short time late in the day where he cleaned out his office, and “much to everyone’s relief got the provincial pictures off the wall”. He was also able to salvage the two tribute jerseys — for Colton Lakeman and Chase Cornford.

Now he’s back to work, answering calls and trying to accommodate the needs of hundreds of youngsters who played hockey, figure skated and participated in other activities in the building. “I’ve been on the phone all morning,” he said. “Whatever ice we get we’ll put into a pool and divide appropriately.”

Parsons indicated he’s got 80 league games to reschedule. Several slots have already been provided in Eckville and they’re looking at times in Bowden, Rimbey and Innisfail.

He told councillors Tuesday night, he’d had calls from every municipality within 45 miles. “There’s lots of ice time, it’s just somewhere else.”

Ron Lebsack, director of community services, told councillors one option they’ll be bringing back to council is the idea of adult ice times being moved later in the day to accommodate more youth bookings.

Asked about tournaments, Parsons said the Atom AA and Atom A teams volunteered to give up their tournament on the 14th. Other than that there weren’t any tournaments scheduled until March. “They may be able to be salvaged depending on playoffs.”

Besides dealing with the loss of the arena, the adjacent multiplex has been shut down because its gas line ran through the arena. Atco Gas crews were on hand Tuesday working on a solution.

For scheduling questions, Parsons may be contacted by email or phone. His business phone number (403-887-2575) is now being forwarded to his cell phone.

He’s had phone calls, emails and Facebook posts from all over the world.

“So many guys stayed in the rink, with the hockey school guys lived there. It’s such a part of the life, it’s tough to believe.”

Parsons talked of hearing from a “kid” from Austria who was here in the mid- ‘80s, others from Quatar, Denmark and instructors from Texas.

Pretty well every minor hockey association has sent a note.

“It’s sad, you’d like to say goodbye to the old girl the proper way,” Parsons said. “It shouldn’t go unceremoniously like this.” He hinted there was talk about ways to celebrate when the arena, which was scheduled for replacement in the near future, ended its life.

“Thanks to everybody for all the help, it’s been tremendous,” he concluded. “Special thanks to emergency services. They really do have the user groups at heart – but it’s safety first.”