By Hannah Garner
The Youngstown Phantoms and Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation teamed up to help build a dek hockey rink at the Wick Recreation Area in Mill Creek Park on Aug. 28,
Dek hockey, an outdoor version of ice hockey, is usually played on foot instead of using skates.
The rink was built on the same site as the old ice rink that closed more than 15 years ago, and will be open year-round. Players can wear sneakers or inline skates to play.
The rink is expected to be fully operational by 2019, with leagues and safety rules being established. The Youngstown Phantoms also have plans to run clinics on dek hockey.
“Dek hockey is an obviously incredible way to expose kids and adults to the great sport of hockey,” said Phantoms president Andrew Goldman. “Ice is the most challenging and expensive hurdle to get involved with hockey, and this is an incredible way to expose more and more families to this great sport.”
Members of the community have also expressed excitement about the new rink and think it will get more people involved in the sport.
Former Youngstown State University hockey player, Darrin Salzano said he thinks the new rink is a great idea.
“Growing up in a generation of basketball and football, it’s nice to see a place where you can go play a different sport,” Salzano said. “A couple of my friends started out playing dek [hockey], which was nice for them because they had no clue how to ice skate, but loved the sport.”
Salzano and his friends first started a dek hockey team when they were younger.
“It was cool to get all of my friends and learn how to actually play.”
Abbey Braddock, the program coordinator at the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, said one of the main goals at the Penguins Foundation is to grow the game of hockey.
“We hope that through the partnership with the Youngstown Phantoms, this rink will be used by children of all ages,” Braddock said.
This is the 14th dek the foundation has built, but is the first one outside of the Pittsburgh area.
Braddock said Mill Creek Park was chosen as a prime location because “it is an expansive, busy park, which is exactly what we look for when we choose a location. It has a lot of traffic and really gives the most people the chance to try hockey.”
She also said the Penguins Foundation want to use its relationship with the Youngstown Phantoms to “make sure that children in the Ohio Valley have all the opportunities to get into the game of hockey at [a] more affordable level.”