Hamline hockey goes wild

The Hockey team at Hamline has had a long history of moving between rinks. In the 1960s the team played the majority of their games on an outside rink. After this the team spent quite some time playing at a variety of locations, such as the Coliseum in the State Fairgrounds, Drake Arena owned by St. Paul academy, followed by Vadnais Heights arena before recently moving to the Oscar Johnson Arena just north of campus. Throughout all of these locations the team has shared the ice with a variety of high schools, amatuer leagues, and other organizations.

“The hockey team hasn’t had a place to call their own, they’ve been like vagabonds,” said Hamline Athletics Director Jason Verdugo.

This is why when the offer came up to partner with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and the St. Paul Port Authority to build a hockey rink downtown the university jumped on the opportunity.

“We’ve been discussing the project for about the past three years,” Verdugo said about the new TRIA Rink on the Treasure Island Center’s rooftop.

The rink itself is to be downtown in the old Macy’s building which is now the Treasure Island Center. The building will act as a multiplex arena having a Walgreens, a Tim Hortons and other tenants in the building. The rink itself will act as a practice rink for the Minnesota Wild and as home for the Hamline Pipers. Since the Pipers will have premier ice time, they will be able to adjust their schedule to best fit their players academic schedules.

The current Oscar Johnson Arena has posed a few problems for the team. “It doesn’t have locker rooms, we have to use trailers without running water in order to get ready for the games which really sucks,” said sophomore Tommy Hall on the Men’s Hockey team. “In order to shower you have to pack up and go home which is really annoying.”

The new facility contains private locker rooms for the Hamline players as well as running showers, toilets, and laundry machines. Alongside these the rink provides seating for 1,100 people and it is expected it will be used by over 600,000 people each year.

While Hamline will be occupying the rink it will be the Minnesota Wild that manages it. “This means that the ice will be NHL quality. The ice will be second to only the Xcel Energy Center in quality,” Verdugo said.

While Verdugo was unwilling to comment on the exact price of the project he did say that it cost the University less than the partnership the baseball team had with CHS field downtown.

The rink is expected to open in Jan. of 2018 and the Pipers Men and Women’s Hockey teams will be able to play the second half of their season there.

“The hope is that in the future we can do more with the rink, whether that’s open skates, intramurals, or something else, we want it to be accessible to more students. That’s the hope,” Verdugo said.

Until then the Hamline hockey teams are, “Excited, especially the seniors, they’ve seen this coming for a while so it’s a big deal that they get to play on it,” said Hall, “and us new guys get to play on it for a lot longer, so we are excited too.”