The Golden and District Centennial Arena, better known as the Plywood Palace, is slotted for re-opening on January 10, 2020.
The rink will be open just in time for the Golden Rockets game, which is slotted for puck drop at 7:30 p.m. on that day. The rest of the town’s regularly scheduled programming at the rink will resume throughout the weekend on January 11 and 12.
“The chiller is running, it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing, we haven’t had any major mechanical hiccups at this point in time, so we’re in great shape,” said Jordan Petrovics, manager of recreation services at the Town of Golden. “Making the ice is a bit of a timely process, but we’re in the full swing of it right now.”
The Golden Rockets Jr. B Hockey club can now return to their home ice, after spending over a month on the road, travelling upwards of an hour for both games and practices.
“We’re thrilled to be home, I think we’re a lot more grateful and appreciative of the facility and what we have available to us here,” said Jeremy Blumes, head coach and general manager of the Rockets. “As an organization we really came together and made it work.”
While constantly playing on the road meant the Rockets had their struggles, Blumes is hopeful that in the long term it will be a good thing.
“I think it’s going to be an advantage for us moving forward. We spent a lot of time together as a group, and we can already see the impact that has on their play,” said Blumes. “Just this past weekend it was on display in a huge win against the first place team Kimberley.”
The re-opening of the rink will mean that hockey can return to Golden, as even the minor teams had to travel long distances for their own games and practices.
“I think the Plywood faithful will just want to get the puck dropped and get hockey back into our community,” said Blumes.
The process of ice building is more complex than it seems, according to Petrovics. Building the ice isn’t just a matter of turning on a hose and letting it freeze – the ice needs to be painted, lines need to be installed, and the whole process can take up to two weeks.
“It’s not like we just turn on a big fire hose and flood the place, we actually walk back and forth putting the water down a layer at a time for five or six layers,” said Petrovics.
The arena has been closed since November 25, 2019, when an ammonia leak due to a faulty chiller made occupying the rink a hazard.
Since then, all town programming has been halted, while the town sourced a temporary rental chiller to install until the end of the season. The chiller is costing the town approximately $80,000 to rent until the end of March, with the cost of a permanent replacement chiller costing between $150,000 to $200,000.
However, the Town and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District Board (CSRD) are exploring different avenues to see if they can make a warranty or insurance claim, as the previous chiller should not have failed so soon.
“The unit definitely wasn’t anywhere near the end of its life, so we’re in the process of investigating that side of things,” said Petrovics. “It’s hard for us to comment on it at this point in time, but time will tell with that one right now. We’re doing our part to see if these are avenues that can be pursued.”
It’s actually the CSRD who own the arena, and who will be approving the final budget for the arena repairs.
“They’ve approved through the board a resolution for us to source out a new chiller,” said Petrovics. “We’re planning for early January to award that contract to put in a permanent replacement.”
Installation of the new permanent chiller will occur over the course of the summer.