Over the last few weeks, the Moose Jaw Events Centre has undergone a minor facelift in preparation for the 2023 World Para Ice Hockey Championship.
The event, which kicks off on Sunday, will have eight countries from three continents vying for the gold medal and of course, bragging rights.
The staff have been hard at work over the last few weeks transforming what was a regular arena into a para-accessible ice surface.
Ryan MacIvor, the event centre’s general manager, says the biggest change they made was with the boards, which are now see-through.
“The athletes will be able to skate right on and off the ice into the player’s benches and penalty boxes but will also access through the vomitories onto the ice,” says MacIvor. The white puck board that traditionally is in the arena all the way around is now broken by see-through poly-carbonate boards.”
“Once the athletes are down at ice level they’re able to see through the dasher boards and watch the field of play,” adds MacIvor.
Synthetic ice has been added to the player's benches, penalty boxes, and to and from the dressing rooms to the ice, which allows for easy access.
In addition, the ice surface has been painted with the tournament markings, sponsorship logos, and the event logo at centre ice.
If you look to the south side of the arena, you will see a row of flags representing the eight countries taking part.
Now with the ice surface mostly finished leading up to Sunday, MacIvor mentioned that the transition was an overall success.
“I think it went really well. The boards and that glass got changed, so it was the first time for that to happen, it just took a little bit longer. We will be keeping some of the components of the para-accessibility kit in place on a year-round basis at the vomitories and the gates. There will be a net benefit to younger athletes and players to access the surface.”
The rink has already seen some action prior to Sunday, as Team Canada and Korea, who arrived on Friday and Saturday have held practices.
The other six countries will be arriving on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Korea and Czechia will kick off the event on Sunday at 11:00 a.m., with Team Canada hitting the ice on Monday against Korea at 7:00 p.m.
With the event being five days away, MacIvor says that it has been building excitement and interest from the community and beyond.
“If it wasn’t for Hockey Canada and Moose Jaw these athletes would not have this opportunity to play at a world level and compete for gold. What’s really special for me is that the community has really pulled together to host this international event.”
Moose Jaw will welcome teams from Canada, the United States, Czechia, Korea, Germany, China, Italy, and Norway, who all will embark on the Moose Jaw Events Centre for the world championship event.
All 20 games, including the gold medal game on June 4 at 7 p.m. MT, will be played at Moose Jaw Events Centre.
Tickets for the 2023 World Para Ice Hockey Championship are on sale to the public and can be purchased at HockeyCanada.ca/Tickets, starting as low as $15.