Saskatchewan‘s extreme cold weather warnings over the holiday season didn‘t stop hockey lovers in Ituna, Sask. from playing in the cold.
Earlier this year, Ituna received $100,000 for the community arena for being the top 2 finalist in the 2017 edition of Kraft Hockeyville.
“Our arena was built by volunteers in the 60s. It is one of the last ‘Deiner‘ style rinks in Saskatchewan. It‘s a really, really cool barn … it‘s a natural ice, about as old school as you can get,” said Adrienne Ivey.
Ivey has been helping to raise money for the community to either build a new arena, or fix their aging rink as its roof is starting to fail.
She‘s motivated to keep the rink operating, as the love for hockey is still alive and well in Ituna.
The indoor rink has been hard to keep at a reasonable temperature as the building ages. Ivey said the warmest the indoor rink got during the cold spell was – 26 C.
“We love our hockey in Ituna. Our kids absolutely love it. They‘re begging us to go skating every single day. Even though it‘s so cold in there — bone chillingly cold — it‘s still getting used every single day,” said Ivey.
Braving the elements
For Ivey, Saskatchewan skater‘s love of the game and perseverance is what makes the effort worth it.
In Ottawa, the cold weather was bad enough to cancel a peewee hockey tournament this week on the Canada 150 Rink on Parliament Hill. The Canada 150 rink project cost $5.6 million, about half of which went to the design and construction of the rink.
But on the same day, eager skaters in Ituna, Sask. braved the cold and skated for four hours in the indoor arena.
“The millions of dollars that they put into that temporary ice structure, it just broke my heart a little when we were just working so darn hard in Ituna, trying to find the funding, and we‘ve spent years fundraising just to keep our rink functional,” said Ivey.
Ivey said the $100,000 from the Kraft Hockeyville contest has been seed money that has helped boost fundraising efforts.
“We‘ve taken that money and doubled it already, so that‘s wonderful, it has set us on the right path. But now we just need to go even further,” said Ivey.
“The construction costs are incredible these days, so we‘re looking at a very big dollar value even in just being able to redo the roof itself.”
Whether it‘s building a new roof or building a new arena, Ivey says they want to make the choice to spend the money on whatever serves their community as long as possible as a way to keep kids active.
“Just the level of dedication that it takes to be out there skating and working on your skills improving yourself when it‘s literally – 35 C out, it just says so much about what is great about youth in rural Canada,” said Ivey.
“Hockey‘s a big part of that, and something that we just really want to see continue into the future.”