BURGETTSTOWN – A group hoping to bring hockey to the Burgettstown area has begun researching the option of installing a novel facility that uses synthetic technology to create a playing surface without ice.
“We just want to do this for the kids,” said organizer Vickie Rush. “We need to give them an activity to do, and this would be great.”
Synthetic surfaces allow skaters to play ice hockey away from a pad of ice. Unlike street, deck or roller surfaces, synthetic ice allows players to use traditional ice skates and pucks without the large and expensive equipment needed to house, maintain and freeze the ice.
Rush said she saw the surface being demonstrated at a recent home and garden show and began to think of ways she could get a sheet to youth in the area as an afterschool activity.
“We need to give kids something to do,” Rush said. “We were looking for fun ideas for kids because there is just not much for them to do around here. This will keep them from getting into trouble.”
In a conversation with Rush’s longtime friend Anna Marie Quader, who happens to be the mayor of Burgettstown, the two found out they had both recently been introduced to synthetic ice.
“When she called me, I said, ‘I just saw a story on that on Channel 13,’” Quader said. “It was like it was meant to happen.”
Despite her position, Quader said this initiative was a private endeavor.
“We don’t want any politics involved,” Quader said.
The two women were hoping to start a nonprofit organization, partly in honor of Rush’s late son, who was a hockey player. Donnie Diehl was 17 when he died in a motorcycle accident in 1995. Rush said she still had her late son’s goalie mitt.
“He loved hockey, and we were hoping to make his memory a part of this,” Rush said.
Quader and Rush met with a representative from a Verona company that produces the surface, Future Skate, and are looking for locations that could incorporate the roughly 200-foot-by-8-foot rink. The two women hope to raise roughly $300,000. They are looking for volunteers and anyone interested in becoming part of their committee.
The specific synthetic ice surface the group is hoping to install in Burgettstown is called Tivar ice and is infused with a lubricating oil to reduce friction. It does not have to be cut or resurfaced in between sessions like traditional ice. Skaters can use ice hockey skates on the material, but figure skates cannot be used because of the toe pick.
The recyclable plastic surface of the rink would be made of 7/8-inch-thick panels measuring 3 feet by 10 feet. Each panel weighs 122 pounds. Future Skate marketing director Danyel Coyne said skaters have to dig a little harder to propel themselves than they would on traditional ice, but many competitive and professional ice hockey players prefer to use the surface for training because of the added resistance.
Quader said she also had a love of the sport of hockey. Her father was a 25-year season ticket holder with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and she said her family had been going to games since the 1980s.
Although it would not exactly be the traditional ice barn most hockey players were familiar with, Quader said she hoped the rink would be a boon to the sport the same way previous deck and roller hockey movements have been.
“We want to have fun with it,” Quader said. “No one has really disliked the idea so far, and I know and it will be good for hockey in the area.”