January/February 2019

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AFTER WAYNE GRETZKY joined the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, California hockey would never be the same. The state was already producing great players—like 1976's U.S. Olympic goaltender Jim Warden—but "The Great One" sparked a newfound love for the game. Interest in youth leagues exploded. And in addition to the Kings, the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks took off. Today, California is quickly becoming a powerhouse in the ice hockey world. Not only is the Golden State sending skaters to national teams and top-tier schools, but it's also raising youth players at record levels. According to USA Hockey, the number of 8U players alone jumped a quarter higher during the 2016-2017 season than the year before, and more girls than ever are participating. Area rinks are trying their best to keep up. Ice time is tight for many programs. Plus, warm climates and skyrocketing real estate costs make rinks in some regions expensive to operate. Few new facilities are getting built. Enter the Great Park Ice & FivePoint Arena. The massive Irvine facility opened in December as the Ducks' new practice ice. The operation boasts four sheets— 12 / JANUARY.FEBRUARY.2019 USICERINKS.COM Featured Rink Great Park Ice & Fivepoint Arena | | Irvine, Calif. PHOTO: GREAT PARK ICE & FIVEPOINT ARENA Great Park Ice & FivePoint Arena is making waves as the Anaheim Ducks' new practice facility // by EMILY ZAK California Dreaming

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