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Golden Rockets Welcomed in Cranbrook

After they were forced out of Golden Arena due to the facility’s failing ammonia ice chiller, the Golden Rockets have since found a new home in Cranbrook, making light out of an otherwise dark and difficult situation.

Golden Arena was forced to close on Monday, November 25, 2019, due to mechanical problems with the chiller, where a small sample of ammonia was found inside the chilling brine. Taking the necessary precautions, Golden Arena was closed indefinitely and the chiller was decommissioned, thus leaving the Golden Rockets without a home rink for the foreseeable future.

“You get into these chillers and things in these arenas and they’re very expensive, they’re very delicate and our Golden people did the right thing,” Dan Ringheim told MyEastKootenayNow.com, President of the Golden Rockets. “They got it shut down, there was no ammonia in the atmosphere and they have done a marvellous job and it sounds like they got a chiller going to be on the way very soon.”

Since the closure, the Town of Golden and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District approved $150,000 to $200,000 in funds to purchase a new ice chiller for Golden Arena, which will take about 8 to 12 weeks to be delivered and installed. For the time being, a temporary chiller was found at the cost of $80,000, which will be rented and allow for the rink to tentatively reopen on January 10, 2020.

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Despite the good news that the Rockets can return to Golden in the new year, the team was still left without a home for the month of December and were desperate to try and make something work so they could continue their KIJHL season.

“I went around and I went to the City, and I went to the rinks, and I went to the Cranbrook Bucks, and everybody just opened their arms to us, they were phenomenal with this,” said Ringheim. “All of the hockey community, minor hockey, figuring skating, the senior men’s leagues, all of the different skating leagues, they have just opened up their arms and said we’ll make room for you and so it’s been delightful.”

Introduced to Nathan Lieuwen, the President and Owner of the Cranbrook Bucks, Ringheim said he was immediately shown around and introduced to everyone, which immediately got the ball rolling to make something happen.

Golden played their first game at Cranbrook Memorial Arena on Friday, December 6, 2019, against the Nelson Leafs. Although the Rockets lost 6-3, the official attendance was counted at 415 as the Cranbrook community came out to support the KIJHL club.

As it currently stands, the Golden Rockets will play seven more homes games in Cranbrook in December and early January, thanks to the community’s hospitality.

“I’m really proud of how our organization has come together and we’re pulling together here and making sure that it’s going to work,” said Jeremy Blumes, Head Coach and GM of the Golden Rockets. “There’s a lot of logistics that go into putting on a hockey game, it’s not just dressing 20 hockey players and dropping a puck, and our board members and our volunteers have all done a really good job of pitching in.”

Blumes told MyEastKootenayNow.com that they are managing the challenges that come with playing their home games in Cranbrook and practicing out of Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena in Invermere, but that they’re thankful for the support of everyone involved.

“Obviously when you’re bussing two and a half hours away for home games and you’re travelling an hour to and from for practices, the costs are going to mount,” said Blumes. “We’re doing our best to keep things economical while still providing a first-rate program for our guys.”

“The way I look at it, we get to go to the rink and play the game we love each and every day, life is good.”

Blumes said the unfortunate situation with Golden Arena may actually be a blessing in disguise for the team despite some of the hardships.

“Our level is all about players advancing and to play here in Cranbrook in front of the newest BCHL franchise, I’m thinking about a guy like Lare Pahtayken, who is a ’03, or Alex Johnson, who is a ’02. Those guys, they have their sights set on playing Junior A in the very near future and to play in front of a BCHL franchise on a nightly basis, what a great opportunity.”

Cranbrook can enjoy seven more Golden Rockets home games before they return to their proper home, as their tentative first game back in Golden Arena will be Friday, January 24, 2020, against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.

Here’s the Golden Rockets’ remaining KIJHL schedule for their home games in Cranbrook:

  • Friday, December 13, 2019
    • Golden Rockets vs Creston Valley Thunder Cats
    • 7:30 pm at Western Financial Place
  • Saturday, December 14, 2019
    • Golden Rockets vs Fernie Ghostriders
    • 8:45 pm at Western Financial Place
  • Tuesday, December 17, 2019
    • Golden Rockets vs Kimberley Dynamiters
    • 6:45 pm at Western Financial Place
  • Saturday, December 21, 2019
    • Golden Rockets vs Columbia Valley Rockies
    • 8:00 pm at Western Financial Place
  • Saturday, January 4, 2020
    • Golden Rockets vs Kimberley Dynamiters
    • 7:30 pm at Western Financial Place
  • Tuesday, January 7, 2020
    • Golden Rockets vs Creston Valley Thunder Cats
    • 7:30 pm at Western Financial Place
  • Friday, January 10, 2020
    • Golden Rockets vs Spokane Braves
    • 7:30 pm at Western Financial Place
The Golden Rockets and Nelson Leafs at Cranbrook Memorial Arena on Friday, December 6, 2019. (Bradley Jones, MyEastKootenayNow.com staff)
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