July/August 2019

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BEFORE THE ST. OLAF ICE ARENA opened this January, varsity college players arrived at practice looking like Mites. The NCAA Division III teams had been renting ice at Northfield, Minnesota's only facility, about a mile away from the university. Space was tight. "They didn't have their own locker room, so the kids would get dressed half[way]," says Brandon Koontz, St. Olaf Ice Arena manager. "You know, no skates on, carrying their helmet, their gloves and stick into the arena, but they're fully dressed in some cases." On game days, players weighing as much as 220 pounds would pile into cramped locker rooms underneath the bleachers. The locker rooms were so small that home and visiting teams needed three rooms each. Sometimes there wouldn't be enough ice time available for both the men and women to practice there, so one would have to drive an hour to somewhere like the Twin Cities or Faribault to find ice. Now, with the new facility, St. Olaf athletes have a space of their own. The college provides seven varsity programs with dedicated locker rooms, offering a clean place for those who play hockey, soccer and other sports to change and stash their gear. 18 / JULY.AUGUST.2019 USICERINKS.COM Featured Rink St. Olaf Ice Arena | | Northfield, Minn. PHOTO: ST. OLAF ICE ARENA St. Olaf College celebrates a new campus arena after nearly 100 years of hockey // by EMILY ZAK FAITHFUL Ole

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