For Jason Frykas, the vice-president of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League’s St. Boniface Riels, Bell MTS Iceplex staff were lifesavers.
Not long after the ice-making plant at the Riels home rink, Notre Dame Arena, sputtered and wheezed to a premature death, Iceplex staffers such as GM Monte Miller, Programming Manager Dean Court and Master Scheduler Ted Szypowski, sprang into action. It was not long after the Riels organization was told that the earliest time it could get back into Notre Dame Arena was “probably December,” the Iceplex crew found a way to fit the Riels into the already-heavy schedule at a place that has become Winnipeg’s home of hockey.
We’re really fortunate that they were able to accept us into the fold so we can play there this season,” Frykas said. “We’re really excited about the change. It will be a nice change. Notre Dame treated us well, but when the plant went down and we were scrambling for a place to play, the Iceplex staff really stepped up and found us a place to play.
“Our general manager Cam Craig also has a close relationship with St. Boniface minor hockey and they’re coming out to the Iceplex, as well so it’s going to be an exciting season. There has been a lot of discussion with St. Boniface Minor and it’s going to be great to see a lot of young faces out there with us.”
The Riels are the newest tenants at a building that has become exactly what was planned for it the day it was built. The 172,000 square-foot, four-rink, multi-purpose hockey center has become one of the busiest sports venues in Western Canada.
“From the day it was built, our challenge was to make this place the home of hockey,” said Court. “We’ve worked as hard as we possibly can to welcome as many hockey players and their families and fans into our building from the day it opened. I always like to say we are user-friendly for everybody.
“And I think a big reason for our success is what we offer. We have a medical room. We have Focus Fitness. We provide safe, professional services to everyone who comes through the door.”
In 2018, more than 10,000 hockey players are expected to use the ice at Bell MTS Iceplex. It’s not only home for the Winnipeg Jets, Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg Blues, Balmoral Hall Blazers, St. Mary’s Flames and the St. Paul’s Crusaders, but for the entire Manitoba Women’s Jr. Hockey League, the North American Hockey Challenge, the Winnipeg Jets AAA Classic, the Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup, the Wild, the Monarchs and Warriors and on and on.
“It’s a one-stop shop,” said Miller. “You have your practice or game, work out in the gym and get in extra time at the Ice Lab.
“And even when we didn’t have ice on some rinks in the summer, we were still the home of the Canadian Ball Hockey Championships.”
Sarah Zacharias, the Director of Hockey at Balmoral Hall and the head coach of the Blazers, has been a fan of the Iceplex since the day the Blazers arrived.
“We’ve been part of the Iceplex since the day it opened and we knew from the moment the plans were unveiled that we wanted to be a part of it,” Zacharias said. “At the time, Steve McDonald was running the hockey program and he and Tina Alto, got together and agreed that the future of the Prep hockey program would rely on the success of the Iceplex. At the time, we were using the Winnipeg Winter Club, and they were great to us, but they simply didn’t have the amenities that we receive at the Iceplex.
“It’s really incredible to me what the Iceplex has done for our city and for our team in particular. We’re in the back corner with St. Paul’s right beside the Ice Lab so our girls can get some extra work after practice if they need to. We have everything we need. And I have a great relationship with all the people who work at the Iceplex and they just bend over backwards to help us make the program successful. And it’s really fun to have St. Mary’s in here with us. To have the two strongest female hockey programs in the province housed in the same building, says a lot about the building.”
The Bell MTS Iceplex was opened in August of 2010 and since then, it’s become the most important single building in the province when it comes to both professional and amateur hockey. From the day it opened, it’s been Manitoba’s home rink.
WHOSE HOME RINK IS IT?
Extended Use Agreement Tenants
Winnipeg Jets National Hockey League
Manitoba Moose American Hockey League
Winnipeg Blues Manitoba Junior Hockey League
Balmoral Hall Blazers Junior Women’s Hockey League
St. Mary’s Flames Canadian Sport School Hockey League
St. Paul’s Crusaders Winnipeg High School Hockey League
Limited Use Agreement Tenants
St. Boniface Riels Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League
Winnipeg Wild Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League
Winnipeg Monarchs Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association
Winnipeg Warriors Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association
Assiniboine Park Rangers Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association
South Winnipeg Twins Winnipeg Minor Hockey Association
Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League
Iceplex Adult Hockey League
17th Wing (Canadian Military) Hockey League
Manitoba Sledge Hockey League
Winnipeg Jets AAA Classic
Winnipeg Jets AA Showdown
Winnipeg Jets Challenge Cup
High School Provincial Championships
Hockey Manitoba Cup (Adult Championships)
North American Hockey Classic
Mustang Challenge Hockey Tournament
Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre Tournament
Female World Sport School Challenge
John Taylor Piper Classic Tournament of Champions
Sturgeon Heights Husky Classic
High School Rookie Classic
MWJHL Lieutenant Governors Tournament
Jets Hockey Development (JHD)
Jets Hockey Academy (WJHA)
St. James-Assiniboia Hockey Academy (SJAHA)
NCAA Hockey Summit
WHL/Hockey Manitoba Program of Excellence
Hockey Manitoba Male and Female Showcases
Mike Keane Celebrity Classic
AAA All-Star Showcase
2018 Ringette National Championships
2018 National Ball Hockey Championships
Girls Hockey Fest
Winnipeg Jets Fan Fest