With one snip from a pair of scissors, the ribbon floated gently to the ground and the long awaited new arena officially opened its doors in Rankin Inlet on Nov. 23.
The opening of the arena had been delayed for about a month due to one section of the ice not freezing properly, but it should be nothing but smooth skating ahead for the hockey-mad community of Rankin and its brand-new state-of-the-art facility.
The annual Season Opener Rankin Rock hockey camp started things off (Nov. 23 to 27) for the new arena last weekend, and things will get turned up a notch quickly at the new facility when the bantam hopefuls for the 2020 Arctic Winter Games (AWG) arrive for their territorial trials from Nov. 29 to Dec 1.
Hamlet recreation co-ordinator David Clark said there were a few minor issues to be addressed in addition to the section of ice that wouldn’t freeze, but everything has been taken care of and the new $26-million rink is set to go for its first season in Rankin Inlet.
He said he’s glad the delay is in the rear-view mirror and everything will soon be caught up and back to normal.
“I’ve been feeling the pressure for a long time now, and it was difficult when I didn’t have a definitive date for anything to get going on,” said Clark.
“We had the ice done in five days once we got the green light, and that’s pretty incredible to us. It used to take us about four weeks in the old building because the rink was nowhere near level and the ice-making plant itself wasn’t the best.
“We have two inches of ice on top at the new arena, while, at the old building, we used to have eight-to-10 inches in the corners.
“It’s hard to put into words how much of an improvement this really is for the community.”
Clark said most of the pressure to get the season started was being felt by the minor hockey program in Rankin.
He said the kids trying to earn a spot on one of the teams heading to the AWG needed to get on the ice
and be prepared when their selection camps began.
“Representing Nunavut at the AWG is a dream every hockey-playing kid in this territory has, and there’s no describing the feeling of pulling that Nunavut jersey down over your shoulders.
“Rankin always puts its best foot forward when it comes to getting our kids on the ice before these camps begin, and it just didn’t feel right not being able to do that this year.
“The arena delay was putting our kids in a tough situation and that really bothered me.
“I’m just glad it’s all behind us now and we can concentrate on continuing to grow our game locally and across the entire Kivalliq region.”
Clark said when something like the arena delay happens, the kids have to take it upon themselves to step-up their off-ice training and be prepared for their camp opening.
He said a positive-and-determined attitude can take someone a long way towards being properly prepared for a selection camp, but there’s nothing like lacing up the blades and taking to the ice to get a young player’s competitive juices flowing.
“You can do any workout routine you want, but there’s nothing like skating to fuel the desire and get a young player ready to go.
“We’ve had the kids on the ice a lot during our opening camp, and I can guarantee you they’re going to break-in this new arena as quickly as they possibly can.
“This has been a big project for the hamlet for a long time and I’ve been involved with it from the very start so I’m feeling a little bit of everything right now – being nervous, worried, scared, relieved, excited and pumped all at once.
“But the kids who skated out onto that ice for the very first time this past Saturday morning will remember that moment for the rest of their lives.”