March Skating Madness at the KC Ice Center

KC Ice Center Spring

MARCH 2016 – For those who don’t want to spend hours on end watching college basketball in March, the KC Ice Center has some good options for getting away from the television and getting the rush of cool air in your face.

“When March comes around, the team events and the other things that are part of the structure of the KC Ice Center slows down,” says Dean Nelson, general manager of the KCIC. “What we like to do in March is throw in extra stick times for kids, and extra public skates, for freestyle or open ice. Folks can come down, whether they’re novice, intermediate or advanced. They can get away from the TV, get away from basketball for part of the weekend.”

Nelson certainly isn’t downplaying the NCAA Tournament. But he also knows the rush of adrenalin that comes with skating around a sheet of ice, especially chasing a hard, rubber puck.

“Recently, we had the Pee Wee Winter Classic. No matter what the temperature was, all the kids were anxious to get outside and play hockey on the outdoor rink,” he said. “It was a little bit colder some mornings, but the colder the better for those kids.

“If you talk about hockey players at the highest level, they all talk about playing hockey on the outdoor ponds. They talk about growing up on the outdoor ice. We have that at the KC Ice Center for about four months out of the year, from mid-November to mid-March. Last year we were able to stay open through Spring Break.”

The scheduled time for closing the outdoor rink is will depends on the weather. As long as nighttime temperatures drop to the low 40s or lower, the KC Ice Center can keep the ice solid. If you want to skate on the pavilion, check the web site or call the rink (913-441-3033) to find out if it’s still open.

kcicecenter.comMost travel teams calling KCIC home will be done with their playoffs by early March. The Kansas City Jets, the KCIC elite-level team, have their Midwest Hockey League playoffs start in March. The varsity and junior varsity squads should be one of top two seeds in their tournaments. “It should be an exciting time for the Jets,” Nelson said.

With the hockey teams done, the KC Ice Center will have plenty of available ice time.

“We’ll have some daytime public skate times during Spring Break,” Nelson said. “We might even have some extra times on the weekends. Check the web site (KCIceCenter.com) for extra times.”

Just because the leagues are done, doesn’t mean there’s no structure at the KC Ice Center. All training programs continue to run through the spring, including “Learn to Skate” and “Learn to Play Hockey” programs that continue throughout the school year.

“But with less going on around here, you can come out and take advantage of the open stick time, when kids can work on their own skills in a less-structured setting,” Nelson said. “You have to have a helmet on, and you can bring your own stick and puck. You can do it with your buddies or your Mom or Dad, but you can work at your own pace.

“During public skate, they can try stuff they haven’t tried before. It might work out for them and it might not. They might fall flat on their face, but it’s a risk worth taking. We have very few injuries here.”

While March is a time for the KCIC staff to catch their collective breath, there really isn’t a down time.

In late March, and running through Memorial Day, the KCIC will host its third annual 4-on-4 league.

“It’s wide open, with no practices and no coaching,” Nelson said. “It’s really more like pick-up hockey. It’s pond hockey. We went from having about 120 kids signed up for our normal 5-on-5 spring season three years ago, to doubling that the last two years when we switched to 4-on-4. That tells us that the kids enjoy it.

“This year we’ll combine all organizations under the KCYHA. The KCIC will join with the Junior Mavericks and Lion Creek. They’ll all play 4-on-4. We have been doing it by ourselves for the last couple of years. Now, the other organizations will join us. You can sign up by going to the KCYHA web site, or you can go to our site and we’ll feed you into that.

“The structure of it is still being developed. It might be true pick-up hockey where you show up and get put on a team. We’re still working on it, but we want to involve all programs.”

If you’re not yet motivated to get up from the couch, there’s one other opportunity for you at the KC Ice Center. Preparation for the Spring Show, which is the annual figure-skating show, will begin in March. The Show is May 21-22, and the theme this year is “One Hit Wonders.” All the practices for that are open to the public. You can come out and watch future figure-skating stars work on their craft.

You never know who you might see flying through the air.

So forget about basketball for a bit, and get on the ice. You’re never too old to try something new.

And looking ahead, if you want to be glued to the TV, the Frozen Four, the NCAA Ice Hockey championship, is April 7 and 9 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay.

For more information, contact the KC Ice Center at 913-441-3033 or visit kcicecenter.com

Article by David Smale

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