KC Ice Center gears up for Hockey Weekend Across America

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FEBRUARY 2015 – Steve Fisch, publisher of Kansas City Sports & Fitness magazine, recently sat down with Dean Nelson, the general manager of the Kansas City Ice Center for an interview on Good Sports, the weekly television show that complements KCS&F. The segment was recorded at the KCIC during the Squirts Midwest Hockey Tournament with teams from surrounding areas. Here’s part of that interview:

KCS&F: You recently had two of your Winter Classics and you have one more coming up. How did the first two go and when is the next one?
Nelson: They went great. We had the Bantams in mid-December and had a little issue with the weather. The next one was right at the holidays, and that was the Squirts. That was awesome. Next, we’ll do the Pee Wee’s in February. We do deal with the outdoor game, which is great. That’s why we call it the Winter Classic. We have an outdoor game, and the kids really enjoy playing on that outdoor surface. So (we have) one more to go, and then the Mite Jamboree in late February and early March.

KCS&F: So how did your team do?
Nelson: Very good, we had a lopsided win. It was good competition, but we ended up with some bounces our way. It really is enjoyable to watch the kids get out there and compete, win or lose. Our major thing at the Kansas City Ice Center is to bring the great sport of hockey to the kids. We have competitive teams for the kids who want to compete, but we also have the rec level teams for the kids in-house.

kcicecenter.comKCS&F: People can sign up for these how?
Nelson: The KC Ice Center web site is KCIceCenter.com. You can go on there to sign up for “Learn To Play Hockey” if you have a kid age 3-10. The KC Stars program is what we work with closely. You can sign up for that at KCStarsHockey.com. The spring league, which is a four-on-four league, is coming at the end of March. The winter hockey season has about a month left, so we’re looking forward to the spring season. Then the summer will be here, and we’ll be right back into the camps and clinics. When you’re having a good time, working down at the rink, and you’re part of something so special like this Kansas City hockey, it’s a great time.

KCS&F: Tell us about some of the events you had in January—National Skating Month.
Nelson: We had Wear Your Favorite Jersey Night, and it wasn’t only hockey jerseys. We had KU and K-State and Missouri. We had a whole group of — we had to bring them in because it’s a public skate—Packers fans (Nelson grew up in Minnesota). Ten of them had Packers uniforms on. On the 30th (we had) Western Night or Hee Haw Night. We did Superhero Night. We did Pajama Night. During January we tried to do a different (theme) every Friday night for $5. Always go to our web site to get the public skate times. It’s pretty cool for the kids and the families to do something different.

KCS&F: In February, the rink joins other rinks across the country to celebrate Hockey Weekend Across America. That’s February 20-22. What’s going to be going on?
Nelson: We’ll have another “Try Hockey For Free” day, and we always look forward to that. I think the last one we had around 80 kids. This time I expect the same number. We have a great number of kids in the area who want to learn to play hockey. There’s a whole lot of stuff going on. We here at the Kansas City Ice Center do our “Try Hockey For Free” with the Kansas City Stars. It’s on the Stars web site (kcstarshockey.com). They take the first 50 or 60, and that’s how many jerseys we get. If you have a kid in that age group who wants to come out and try it for free, it’s a great time and a great exposure to hockey.

KCS&F: You’ve got that outdoor facility, which is very unique. You can skate outside here in Kansas City, which is not something you can do in other cities. It’s part of what the draw is because the kids can skate outside.
Nelson: With any of the tournaments we host, it immediately fills up with teams. They get excited about coming down here to Kansas City and play. Today (Jan. 17) it’s about 52 degrees outside. The ice stays frozen outside up to about 60 degrees. The kids’ eyes just light up when they hit that outdoor rink. They’ve got the lights, which makes it special at night. They just really get excited to play an outdoor game. It really is a great experience for the kids.

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