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Hub exclusive: Avalanche provide Arvada residents a little taste of the Pepsi Center

By John Wagner, SportsEngine, 01/17/20, 3:00PM MST

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A new program spearheaded by the NHL club helps breathe life into old outdoor rinks, including the one at Secrest Recreation Center that now has a replica of the surface from the Avs' home ice.

Photo slideshow: The outdoor rink at Arvada's Secrest Recreation Center was refurbished over the past few months thanks to funding from the Colorado Avalanche. The rink's surface was painted as an exact replica of the one at the Pepsi Center, while the dasher boards, nets and goals were also given a facelift. Photos courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche


Arvada residents will soon have the opportunity for a little taste of what it’s like to skate at the Pepsi Center. 

As part of a push to refurbish outdoor rinks throughout the state, the Colorado Avalanche have partnered with Apex Parks and Recreation to improve and maintain the rink near the Secrest Recreation Center at 6820 West 66th Ave., which is in the Denver suburb 8 miles northwest of the Avs home arena. 

The surface of the rink is painted to look exactly like the one at the Pepsi Center, including the bluelines, faceoff circles and even the Avs’ ‘A’ logo at center ice.

The goal of this mini Pepsi Center is to inspire a new generation of hockey players.

“The idea is to give kids a chance to play the sport, and when they ask, ‘Where can I go play hockey?’...they see the association logo and the next step becomes obvious: Play hockey in an association,” said Connor Duckhorn, the Avalanche's program manager for amateur hockey development.

The weather in Colorado allows for outdoor, or street hockey — even in December and January, and the Avs believe a refurbished rink will increase access, opportunity and inclusion within the sport, Duckhorn said.

“We are looking to create more opportunities for kids to go out and play,” he added. 

The idea for the new program germinated when Avalanche staff members were in San Jose for the 2019 All-Star Game and witnessed a revamped outdoor rink the Sharks had sponsored, and soon they were in search of the ideal rink as a pilot project. 

With several options available, the Avs narrowed the list of candidates by selecting a rink in a city with a hockey association.

The rink at Arvada’s Secrest Recreation Center was a prime candidate for restoration, said Katie Groke, the communications director for Apex, a non-governmental agency that runs a number of the city’s athletic facilities.

Groke, who also manages the company’s marketing and community outreach, said Apex has hosted some programming at the recreation center, such as ‘strider’ bikes and a little floor hockey, but that it had not maximized usage of the rink. 

"Even our ice guys are excited to jump on a rink like that, because it’s a way to emulate playing in the Pepsi Center."

— John McKibbon,
Arvada Hockey Association

“With this project, any kid can put a hockey stick in his hand and go out there, whether it’s in tennis shoes or in-line skates,” McKibbon added. “When they do that, they take one step closer to becoming a hockey player. And that’s how we keep growing our game.”

This will not be the only rink the Avalanche restore, as future projects could include a rink in Broomfield, and the organization has funding to refurbish as many as 10 rinks along the Front Range, Duckhorn said.

“The end goal is to work on at least one rink in Colorado Springs, one in Fort Collins, a couple more in the metro Denver area, and maybe one in the foothills of the mountains, like in Evergreen,” he said. “And at the risk of getting ahead of myself, down the road, we can envision perhaps starting some street hockey leagues, or camps or clinics (at the rinks).”

Associations and park districts interested in this program should email Duckhorn at Connor.Duckhorn@TeamKSE.com or call (303) 405-1690.

“If there’s a rink we don’t know about and it needs some love, that’s what we’re looking for,” Duckhorn said.

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