Sun, Dec. 08

Camp Verde to buy pro hockey rink

A professional hockey rink—decorated by the blood, sweat, and tears of National Hockey League stars—is about to become Camp Verde’s roller hockey arena.

Parks and Recreation department head Bill Lee dropped the puck on the idea at a town council meeting on Wednesday night. The group unanimously approved the purchase of a former Phoenix Roadrunners ice hockey rink for $2,500.

Although the rink doesn’t have a home just yet, Lee is optimistic that it will eventually be installed as part of a planned regional park in Camp Verde.

“There are some repairs that need to be made on it, but they are relatively minor” Lee reported to the council.

He said that the rink cost would be $2,000, with the additional $500 representing the cost of transport from Phoenix.

“This would provide us an arena for roller hockey,” said Lee. “The opportunity to purchase this does not come along very often.”

Said Mayor Brenda Hauser: “This sounds like a really good thing. I don’t know about loaning it to Cottonwood, but we could talk about that later.”

Lee had proposed that the neighboring community could borrow the rink while Camp Verde finds a home for it.

NHL goalies Byron Dafoe and Jamie Storr once backstopped the home team on the former pro rink. Both played there for the minor-league Roadrunners in the mid-1990s. Dafoe now guards the net for the Atlanta Thrashers, and Storr stacks his pads for the Los Angeles Kings.

Montreal Canadiens center Yanic Perreault also lit the goal light during his days with the Roadrunners, as did center Igor Korolev of the Chicago Blackhawks. Fellow rink alumnus Aki Berg, of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is now a standout NHL defenseman.

Lee stated that the rink components, if purchased, could be stored until the department is ready to reassemble them. He said that Camp Verde was in a unique position to buy the rink—being first in line among six area communities.

After seeing the rink with acting town manager Dane Bullard, Lee commented, "You wouldn't normally be able to touch that rink for less than $30,000."

The parks and recreation department head said that converting it from ice hockey to roller hockey use would be a fairly simple adjustment.

According to Lee, the storied rink would not come with its scoreboard, but most other original parts would be included—such as the nets, goal lights, penalty boxes, and fiberglass shielding. The rink is currently in the hands of a state surplus department.

The Phoenix Roadrunners were a team in the Western Hockey League, which was absorbed into the World Hockey Association in the 1970s.

The Roadrunners were reborn several times—in the Central Hockey League and Pacific Hockey League—before the most recent International Hockey League team incarnation. After 56 years, the International Hockey League ceased operations in 2001.

The former pro rink was housed in the Arizona Veterans' Memorial Coliseum, also known to fans colloquially as the "Madhouse on McDowell." Lee asserted that burgeoning local interest in roller hockey would support the purchase. The money is to be taken from a parks fund rather than as a budgeted item.

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