(FREDERICTON, NB) It may look like the same Aitken Centre, but it’s not. It’s better.
Several weeks of summer maintenance have come to an end, and the host rink for the 2017 and 2018 CIS men’s hockey championships is in game shape.
“It’s taken considerable time to make all of the adjustments,” says Jeff McIsaac, the new Arena Manager at the Aitken Centre.
“It had been a number of years since some of this work was done and it was important for us to get it done,” says McIsaac.
Almost every corner of the Aitken Centre has seen some sort of work recently.
There’s fresh paint in places, new lighting in others.
Nuts and bolts have been tightened, crooked seats straightened, and broken concrete patched.
The boards around the ice surface were removed and a great deal of “behind the scenes” work done.
McIsaac says “voids” were found behind the boards, so his staff created solid and firm backgrounds.
“The infrastructure has been tweaked,” says McIsaac. “It worked fine before, but now it’s the way it’s supposed to be.”
“For a team like us, skilled and fast, we like to use the walls a lot, but if it doesn’t play true, it slows us down,” says Varsity Reds associate hockey coach Rob Hennigar.
He feels better boards are something that should help the home team.
“We like to make a lot of plays along the boards, so when the boards are corrected, the puck bounces more true,” says Hennigar. “A lot of plays come around the net, you bump it to your defenceman or you play it to your winger, and if the wall doesn’t bounce true, it stops the play completely.”
Hockey fans may notice subtle differences in the game, due to the maintenance work. They’ll do so through much cleaner glass.
Every pane that surrounds the Aitken Centre ice was removed, scrubbed clean of puck marks and other obstructions.
“The Aitken Centre staff worked hard while the ice was out this summer,” says McIsaac. “They put a lot into making sure the building was ready for the CIS tournament, and for our loyal UNB hockey fans. They should notice a difference.”
Even with all the work done in recent weeks, there is still more to be done to get the building ready for the CIS men’s hockey championship, next March. Work will continue this fall and winter.
The Varsity Reds open the Atlantic University Sport regular season on Friday, October 7th, at 7:00PM, when they host the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus.
UNB, the defending national champions, hosts the CIS championship tournament March 16-19, 2017.
Season pass holders from last season can reserve their favourite seats between August 22nd and September 2nd.
Sales open to the general public on September 6th.