Weeks of work go into building 2022 Hockey Day North Dakota
Teams of people from the community in different jobs contributed to building the outdoor rink.
For the third time the University of Jamestown will host the 2022 Hockey Day North Dakota outdoor games on Friday, Jan. 21, and Saturday, Jan. 22. Before the first puck drops, there is a team of volunteers and community members building the rink and getting everything set up when the University of Jamestown Division II team takes on Williston State at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
After the Jimmies take on the Tetons, the Jamestown Blue Jays boys hockey team takes on the Devils Lakes Firebirds at 7 p.m. Friday. The second day starts bright and early at 10 a.m. as the West Fargo Bantams take on the Bismarck Bantams. After that, the Jamestown Blue Jays girls hockey team hits the ice at noon Saturday to take on the Bismarck Blizzards. The day concludes with the nightcap at 7:30 p.m. when the Jimmies Division I team takes on Minot State.
One of the changes of this Hockey Day compared to the two previous events was moving the rink from Allen Field, which is between the Raugust Library and the Sorkness Center. The current location of the rink is in the parking lot next to John L. Wilson Arena and across from Harold Newman Arena, which was changed to help UJ with a heating problem, according to one of the organizers, Jeff Romsdal.
“The university wanted to see it moved,” Romsdal said. “We didn’t have a lot of resistance, we liked where it was at, Allen Field, the first two years. They were having some issues with the steam lines for their heating system which they needed to address, which was adjacent to where the rink was in the field at Allen Field. … This is convenient to the rink, so we’re hoping that possibly the park board, we have yet to have talks, can support the rink after we’re done using it. So, the kids can continue to use it, I know that is the desire of the community I know.”
Each department had different timelines on how long it took to build the rink, with Ryan Krueger from Building Professionals LLC estimating that it took 12 days for him and his team of four people. Corey Smith from Curtis Electric said that it took him and a team of three others a little over three days to get the lights and the electrical aspects hooked up.
Romsdal said that the pace with which the rink gets built on his end is dependent on the weather.
“The timing changes every year,” Romsdal said. “It depends a lot on the weather and the volunteers and what they’ve got going on. Ideally, we want to have the rink set up at least a week or two in advance. The timing is hard to control, the construction of the rink depends on how many people you get here, the talent of the crew that is available because everybody’s got talent, and everybody’s talent goes into building the rink and making it a success.”
According to Weather.com, the forecast for puck drop of the Jimmies game against the Tetons will be a mix of snow and wind, which presents challenges for Smith.
“The biggest thing is keeping it both portable, their intentions are to use these lights and stuff over and we try to make everything in a fashion that is plug and play for the next Hockey Day North Dakota, wherever it travels to next,” Smith said. “The lights themselves, they all come, they are all weather, they are made for outdoor sporting fields. The biggest thing is keeping everything tucked away, pertaining to code and make sure that everything is safely out of the way of getting skate bladed.”
Despite games being played under the lights in the first two iterations, this is Smith and Curtis Electric’s first time working on the games. Smith said that the switch from the previous light fixtures was to be more environmentally friendly and to save money.
“They used to rent generator plants, light plants and the expense of renting the light plants is whether they ran or not, they had to pay for them during the day and at night because they rented them by the day or the week or the month,” Smith said. “It was usually a month, it just got cost prohibitive and it was getting harder for them to reserve the generator lights and it just wasn’t very green. They were burning diesel fuel to power lights that were consuming copious amounts of electricity, it just wasn’t panning out.”
The people who work on it, including Smith, said that it is important to Jamestown to have the games on the University of Jamestown campus.
“I think it’s a huge thing. It’s a pride in the community and a lot of people really came together for it,” Smith said. “I think everybody is very happy with them and it will be neat to see people come from all over the state and these guys came to me and came to Curtis Electric. ... There was a lot of resources out there to get the best product that they could and still maintain it being portable.”
Once the games are over, the crew's job isn't over because they have to break down the rink, Krueger said.
“It is easier than putting it together but there is still a lot of work,” Krueger said. “There are big metal feet that you have to take out of the boards and stack them all on pallets and then you have to band them. Then they have to get hauled back out to Central Sales and put away inside of a building out there. It’s at least half as much work as putting together.”