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Snow shuts down hockey rink

Snow covers the ice at the East End Community Centre rink on Wednesday.

TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Snow covers the ice at the East End Community Centre rink on Wednesday.

Hockey came to a halt at the East End Community Centre this week.

The hockey rink there closed on Monday, which brought complaints, but centre officials say there's too much snow on the ice and nowhere to put it.

"We had too much snow and we're running out of room to pile it and we’ve got another storm coming," said centre president Dana Austin.

"We always seem to run out of room when we get a heavy snow year."

The volunteer-run community centre is popular among skaters. It’s estimated that each winter about 7,000 individuals either play pickup hockey on the rink or skate on another ice surface located beside the rink.

With no ice fee and a clubhouse that loans hockey equipment, the rink is popular among immigrants who want to learn the sport.

It also gives kids from low-income families a chance to play the game.

Usually, hockey season there wraps up in early to late March, but this year the buildup of snow forced a closure ahead of schedule.

Paths were cleared through the snow-covered ice in the hockey rink to allow some skating, but wasn’t suitable for hockey.

A skating area beside the hockey rink, which doesn't have boards, remained open. Its lack of boards meant snow can easily be pushed to the east where there's still room.

The clubhouse also remained open according to regular hours.

Cleaning the hockey rink is no easy task, Austin said. It's the same length as the 80-foot by 200-foot ice surface at Westman Place, but five feet wider.

Volunteers would help, said ice maker Peter Nissen, but they need to clean the ice properly.

Some people add to the problem by shovelling snow up against the boards instead of shovelling it over the boards and out of the rink.

The snow left on the ice then gets packed down and the surface can’t be flooded.

There's only so much that can be done with a snowblower, Austin added, and when the snow gets too deep a skid-steer loader is needed to properly clear the ice.

There was some debate about whether to pay for a loader so close to the regular end of hockey season at the centre.

But as of Wednesday afternoon, after fielding numerous calls, Austin said Nissen and a volunteer were headed to the rink with shovels and they’d be followed in the evening by a skid-steer loader.

The loader and volunteers might be brought in again after the next dump of snow, which was expected last night and today.

The money for machinery will have to come out of the centre’s budget, which consists largely of hall rental fees and donations.

But that money is also needed for other expenses such as utilities and renovations.

The city supplied funding for ice maintenance which helped run the hockey rink during the month of December, but since then it's been kept open using volunteer labour.

There’s a chance that more funding may come from the city that could be used to pay for the skid-steer loader, Austin said.

» ihitchen@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 21, 2013

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Hockey came to a halt at the East End Community Centre this week.

The hockey rink there closed on Monday, which brought complaints, but centre officials say there's too much snow on the ice and nowhere to put it.

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Hockey came to a halt at the East End Community Centre this week.

The hockey rink there closed on Monday, which brought complaints, but centre officials say there's too much snow on the ice and nowhere to put it.

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