The summer has moved along at its usual quick pace and it is hard to believe that only a short time remains before the start of the 2016-17 hockey season! The past Spring and Summer have been a busy and productive period for DYHA with a number of changes occurring that we believe are very positive for both the DYHA and Ice Cats program.
As most of you are aware, for the past year the DYHA Board has wrestled with the issue of securing the most critical resource to any youth hockey organization, winter season ice supply. While ice supply has expanded in the Fairfield County area over the past few years this growth has been overtaken by the emergence of new programs as well as the growth in programs serving girls, including the Ice Cats. For a number of reasons beyond the DYHA’s direct control we were forced last season to find ice supply outside of our traditional local vendors. As we noted at the time, this was not an acceptable long term solution for our program.
The goal of your Board has been to consolidate our ice vendors to local venues and secure medium to long term contracts. Focusing our ice with a few vendors will allow the DYHA to begin the process of offering more consistent ice times and venue schedules to our members. Today, we are happy to announce that we have agreements in place with three different ice providers that satisfy the above goals. We note the following:
Local Venues: DYHA has contracted with Twin Rinks of Stamford (STR) in a long term agreement to provide the majority of our ice needs for years to come with an almost 50% increase in our ice time versus last year. We will have our logo at center ice and we have assumed control of the two locker rooms at the far end of the West Rink that open onto Hope Street. This agreement will allow us to take advantage of the highly respected on-site Prentiss Human Performance for off-ice training with our PeeWee and Bantam age groups. Additionally, we will continue to have a substantial relationship with the Darien Ice House (DIH), and both our boys travel and Ice Cats will continue to skate at DIH.
Introducing Veterans Park Rink, South Norwalk: The balance of our ice supply will be furnished via one of two new tented seasonal rinks that will be available from mid-October thru March at Veterans Park in South Norwalk. Veterans Park is a local solution that will allow us the flexibility to eliminate Westport Longshore and the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club from our ice suppliers. The October opening will see the rink come online at a time that coincides with peak ice demand as our House season commences. This will enable us to secure consistent and quality ice times, particularly during weekdays, across all our venues for all our participants, which is of paramount importance to our association. As with any new venture, there are risks involved in the development and execution of Veterans Park, and to that end we have hired Pat Shannon, former DYHA President and current President of Ice The Rink, to work alongside the Veteran’s team to ensure that the experience for DYHA members will be a satisfying one. We will keep you apprised of the progress on Veterans.
Consistency of scheduling: The Board understands very clearly the desire of its members to have more consistent scheduling in terms of day, time and venue to accommodate busy family schedules. With these ice agreements, the DYHA will take a major step toward getting back to quality ice times during the weekdays, posting schedules on a timely basis and with enough advance notice to make all our lives easier. We will also begin the process of slotting teams into much more consistent times and venues such that the schedule becomes a regular routine for all. This may take another season to complete throughout the schedule, but you should begin to see improvements versus last season very quickly.
Certainty and Adequacy of ice supply: The past few years have been trying for our membership. With our recent arrangements at STR, Veterans Park and DIH the DYHA is assured of ice supply over the medium and long term. This security of supply will allow us to forecast our largest cost with greater certainty and insulate the DYHA from arbitrary cost increases. We welcome the return of split full/half ice practices, skill clinics as well as the introduction of special events and skates for our membership, and we are excited to be in a position to offer fun for Moms, Dads and siblings in addition to our team members.
In the coming weeks I will be sending an additional note to further outline many of the new and exciting additions to the DYHA's offerings. This includes not only the above mentioned developments, but also our participation in the Metro Elite Hockey League as well as our desire to create a "travel-lite" experience for those in our House program who are interested.
We hope you agree that the DYHA has taken the necessary and appropriate steps to support the growth of the program into the future. Thank you for your continued support and patience over the past year. With our ice supply secured for a number of years to come I know that the Board and I are looking forward to DYHA now being able to focus on what we do best: Providing the opportunity for young people in our local area to play quality hockey at an affordable price.
As always, I welcome your questions and comments and I look forward to seeing you all in the rink in the near future!