Penguins employees volunteer to help build rink in Richland park
Roadside signs for “Project Power Play” helped volunteers find their way last week to Richland Community Park's latest sports attraction.
About 20 people — including Dan Bylsma, head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins — traveled miles to help install the bright blue, red and yellow playing surface of the park's new dek hockey rink.
“I know many of our fans consider themselves hockey players via dek hockey,” Bylsma said.
Tony Granato of Upper St. Clair, the Penguins' assistant coach, also joined the amateur installers.
Members of the Penguins' office staff, plus, employees of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, spent a half-day laying the new hockey rink's Mylec Sports surface, with help from Richland Township's public works department.
Using rubber mallets, the volunteers pieced together and pounded into place more than 700 interlocking tiles of textured plastic.
People eventually will play hockey on the rink while wearing tennis shoes or roller skates.
“The intent is that the rink will be available for unorganized use,” said Richland Manager Dean Bastianini.
“It won't be locked, so people can come and play on their own,” Bastianini said. “This fall, we're going to attempt to have some clinics.”
Next year, Richland will use the rink for youth league dek hockey games.
“We're opening a dialogue with Pine Richland Youth Center to organize a youth dek hockey program,” Bastianini said.
The Richland rink is the third of 12 dek hockey rinks planned across Allegheny County by the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and Highmark. The two groups plan to spend $2.1 million to build the facilities as “Project Power Play.”
“It'll get a lot of action,” Granato said about the Richland Community Park rink. He described the rink's tree-lined setting as spectacular.
“You can tell the community cares about making outdoor activities available,” Granato said.
Last year, Richland Supervisor Barton Miller read a newspaper story about the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation's efforts to increase youth interest in hockey through “Project Power Play.”
Miller then gave the article to Bastianini, who phoned the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation for more information.
“Bart was key,” Bastianini said, deflecting credit for construction of the new rink. “He was the motivator behind the whole project.”
As a boy, Miller played hockey in a Mt. Washington recreation center that he described as “a dungeon.”
“This is a great day for hockey in Richland — and especially the kids who are going to have a lot of memories of playing dek hockey in Richland Park,” Miller said as people laid the rink's playing surface on Sept. 5.
The new dek hockey rink — officially a “multi-sport court” — measures 155 feet by 75 feet and incorporates players' benches, a penalty box and break-away goals patented by Riley Manufacturing of Woodstock, Ontario, which designs and makes products used by National Hockey League teams.
“It'll be very popular,” Terry Riley, CEO of Riley Manufacturing, said about the rink. Riley drove from Canada to help install the rink's dasher boards, also made by Riley Manufacturing.
Township employees who helped build the rink include Brandon Gorman of New Sewickley; Mark Walzer of Franklin Park, Ralph Weaver and Adam Frauenheim, both of West Deer; Dale Wentley of Hampton; and John Auther of Richland.
Shields Asphalt Paving supplied the rink's asphalt pad.
An electronic scoreboard is slated for installation by Sept. 13.
Bylsma, formerly of Michigan and New England, never heard of dek hockey until he moved to Western Pennsylvania and noticed the bustling Dek Star Dek Hockey Center on Mt. Nebo Road near his Ohio Township home.
“Back then, I didn't know what it was,” said Bylsma, who grew up playing street hockey. “I've been in hockey 30 years. I didn't know dek hockey existed. Then you find there are leagues.”
Dek hockey originated in Massachusetts, according to Jim Black, owner of the Dek Star Dek Hockey Center, which opened in 1990.
“The sport is growing tremendously,” Dave Soltesz, president of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, said about dek hockey and youths' interest in the activity. Project Power Play “is trying to give them a nice facility to learn the game,” Soltesz said.
“If they get hooked at an early age, maybe they do become a future Penguins' player.”
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.