Dreams of Briercrest's new arena come true

Posted: June 16, 2008

Click here to watch four months of Hockey Arena construction in 55 seconds!

ArenaBriercrest’s longtime dream of a new hockey arena is finally becoming a tangible reality. Excitement is rising as the frame goes up and the residents of Caronport watch the future of hockey on our campus take shape.

Official construction of the new arena began in February, but it began to look like an arena just a few short weeks ago. Contractors climb, hammer, and drill as piece by piece, the metal structure takes shape. According to John Sawatzky, Briercrest College and Seminary’s Director of Facilities and the arena’s project manager, the frame should be complete by mid-June, construction should be essentially finished by late fall, finishing touches will happen through October and November, and the Clipper and Cougar hockey teams will be able to move their things in by the end of December.

"The rink project has been started and pushed aside several times during my time at Briercrest," said Joy Foreman, the Athletics Department’s administrative assistant. "We can finally say our school is standing behind the team and making it happen, which means they believe in the validity of Clipper hockey."

According to Merrill Dyck, the project’s supervising VP, Foreman is right. "We’ve needed this for a long time and it almost feels like a dream to see it actually happening," he said. "As long as I’ve been associated with Briercrest, there has been the dream of a new arena—the biggest challenge was having the courage and doing all the hard work it takes to make the dream a reality."

We’ve needed this for a long time, and it almost feels like a dream to see it actually happening.
The quality of the new arena will be a big draw for the Clipper and Cougar hockey programs. While Sparrow Gardens (Caronport’s present arena) holds many dear memories for those who have played in it, "it’s not ideal for such competitive, high-level hockey," according to Foreman. In addition to the fact that the building has been condemned and has undergone numerous repairs, the ice surface is smaller than the standard size for college-level hockey and there is no temperature control inside the building, making for cold games.

All of that will change with the new arena. It will have an NHL-sized ice surface, ten dressing rooms, and heated seating areas, which many on campus are excited about. "I will appreciate not freezing at each and every game," said Foreman with a smile. "I will miss Sparrow Gardens, [but] February will not seem as cold in the new rink!"

The single most notable feature for Sawatzky, however, will be the view of the ice from the lobby. A glass viewing wall will extend the full length of the lobby so that spectators can catch all of the action on the ice.

He’s been working on the project since 2006, so for him, it’s especially exciting to see it coming together. What is he most looking forward to? "Actually being able to watch hockey in the rink!" he said.

Hockey Arena 3For Foreman, it’s about the alumni, who have been calling regularly to check on the progress of the arena. "They’re starting to buy in now that they can see pictures of it actually beginning," she said. "I will be ecstatic to tell them our new home is ready!"

Perhaps most of all, though, she’s excited for our hockey teams. "I am dying to tell [them] we are ready to move in!" she said. "Without a doubt, Clipper [and Cougar] hockey has a bright future with a new home."

Click here to watch the progress of the hockey arena. Stay tuned for details about opening weekend!