It might not feel like ice skating weather as the August sun and heat sets new temperature records here.
But the new skating season is less than a month away, and the Aldergrove hockey and figure skating teams have to move all their gear from the former Aldergrove Community Arena to the new arena at Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre.
Members of the Aldergrove Minor Hockey Association, the Aldergrove Kodiaks Junior B hockey team, the Aldergrove Secondary hockey program and the Aldergrove Skating Club have begun moving their equipment and offices into the new facility on Fraser Highway this week. It’s a huge undertaking but the job has to be done in time for the upcoming seasons for each association or program that get underway in September.
All of the organizations have been invited by Langley Township to participate in a grand procession from the old arena to the new facility this coming Saturday, August 18. The parade starts at 10 a.m. and will be led by the Zamboni machine on the three-block parade route along 29th Ave. and up 270A Street to the new facility. This will be followed by a few speeches and a ribbon cutting around 11 a.m., then the teams will take to the ice to try it out.
“It should be fun,” said Rick Harkins, owner and general manager of the Aldergrove Kodiaks team.
“We will have 20 to 30 of our players wearing Kodiaks jerseys in the parade, along with our mascot, Kody.”
Harkin said he’s pleased with the modern facilities at the new arena that provide both his players and the fans with greater comforts that should improve the experience of games for all concerned.
“I just hope we bring the atmosphere of the old ‘barn’ to the new arena. All of the teams in the league liked playing in Aldergrove because of the great atmosphere we had at the old arena, and we need to bring that with us, and that way, hopefully, add new fans.”
To that end, the Kodiaks’ first home game against their Langley arch-rivals, the Langley Trappers, will be free admission. Everyone is welcome to attend this exhibition game on Thursday, August 23, 7:15 p.m. at no charge.
This will be the eleventh season for the Kodiaks, which has won the Pacific Junior Hockey League championship three times in the past ten years (winning the cup in 2009-2010, 2013-2014 and 2016-2017). Darin Vetterl returns as head coach, assisted by Travis Eaton and Kevin Persson, with Kamloops Blazers scout Roy El Caswell coming on board to assist Harkins on the management team.
“We will have a good, young, fast team this season,” said Harkins, noting that instead of camps the team ran a development program at Langley’s Sportsplex every Wednesday for the past two and a half months.
“That way, instead just seeing the prospects for three days at a camp we got to see them every Wednesday for ten weeks and got a better look. It allowed the prospects a good opportunity to show their skills, and it opened our (coach’s) eyes too, allowed us to see how they fit in with the other players.”
Harkin has only carded three players so far, while he waits to see which players from last year might return to the Kodiaks once the Junior A hockey camps have concluded.
The three rookies confirmed for the season are a pair of defencemen, Braeden Hallman (of Ridge Meadows) and Parker Kubilius (of Langley), along with a forward from Langley, Justin Ralph.
“Braden and Parker really stood out and Justin got a late start but impressed me with his speed and ability to see the ice and move the puck,” said Harkins.
“We’ll be practicing every day at the new arena starting on August 20 and our first away exhibition game will be on August 22 at George Preston arena against the Langley Trappers, followed by our home exhibition game the next night against the Trappers.
“Our first home game of the regular season will follow on Wednesday, Sept. 5 against the Grandview Steelers.”
The home game on August 23 is an open invitation to the community to come by and enjoy the game free of charge, while looking over the outstanding new features of the new arena.
There is a great view of the ice from the improved wrap-around seating, which includes fully accessible amenities for the handicapped, and vastly improved LED lighting that enables fans to clearly see all of the action.
A lot of thoughtful planning has gone into every element of the new arena and this is the opportunity for the community to see for themselves and share in the fun as the new facility is chistened with its first hockey game.