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From arena logo to Zamboni, Rostraver Ice Garden ready for Hockeyville USA debut

Stephen Huba
| Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, 2:57 p.m.

Five months after winning the Kraft Hockeyville USA 2017 title, the Rostraver Ice Garden is in many ways a new facility.

The historic arena will get a chance to show off more than $150,000 in improvements during a four-day celebration starting Thursday, just in time for the start of the hockey season.

“The facility will be a far greater facility,” owner Jim Murphy said.

This summer has seen a flurry of activity at the Rostraver Township rink as Murphy has had to juggle contacts with the National Hockey League, contractors, Pittsburgh Penguins, local boosters and hockey fans.

“I didn't ask for an easy life. I just asked for the strength to be able to do it,” he said.

Among the biggest improvements are the new LED lights in the arena, new lobby flooring, new Zamboni controls, locker room renovations and upgrades to the cooling system.

The lights — increased in number from 32 to 64 — now shine down on a large Kraft Hockeyville logo in the center of the rink.

The system's candle power is more appropriate for hockey games, Murphy said. “It is beautiful, and it no longer hums,” he said.

The upgrades, which exceed the $150,000 prize for winning the contest, also include: new protective netting for spectators, a new kick plate around the base of the rink, new banners on the lobby side of the arena, new manifold piping under the floor and new piping for one of the older compressors.

Improvements to the Zamboni include installation of the Level-Ice Laser Leveling System, designed to ensure a uniform ice cut, he said.

“Keeping the ice at the same level reduces the run time on the compressors,” he explained.

The Ice Garden emerged as the winner of the Kraft Hockeyville contest after three rounds of online voting in the spring. The third and final round on April 24-25 pitted the historic facility against the Bloomington (Minn.) Ice Garden.

Contest officials said Rostraver was one of more than 1,300 communities across the country — accounting for nearly two of every three rinks nationwide — that submitted stories demonstrating their passion for hockey.

Although the title included the chance to host the Penguins in the preseason, the game against the St. Louis Blues will instead be played at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry, Butler County, at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Kraft Hockeyville officials said in August that the Rostraver Ice Garden was “not equipped at this time” to host an NHL preseason game but did not offer specifics.

The Ice Garden will, however, host a Penguins practice session at 11 a.m. Sunday, Murphy said. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Free tickets to the practice session and the game were handled through a lottery system. Winners were announced on Friday.

Other events this week include:

• Thursday — Rise Against Hunger food-packing event at the California University Convocation Center, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

• Friday — Gala Event at the Cal U Convocation Center, 6:30-10:30 p.m. The casino-themed event, a fundraiser for the nonprofit Mon Ice Project, will feature food stations, live and silent auctions, gaming tables and more.

• Saturday — 5K Run & Parade in North Belle Vernon, starting at 9:30 a.m., followed by a Youth Game and Fun Fair at the Ice Garden.

Murphy said the Stanley Cup is expected to make an appearance sometime during the four-day event.

More information can be found at www.MonIceProject.org .

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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