The Missouri State Ice Bears have run into a complication with their regular season schedule set to open up in the next couple of weeks.
Jordan Valley Ice Park, home of the Ice Bears, is closed through mid-September due to a mechanical failure at the ice plant. The park’s operations will be temporarily frozen as crews repair the system that keeps the ice rinks cool.
That means hockey practices for the Ice Bears will be canceled until the park reopens, according to a Springfield Greene-County Park Board news release.
“Jordan Valley Ice Park is one of our key facilities,” parks director Bob Belote said in a statement. “Our staff and contractor are doing everything that we can to get our patrons and programs back up on the ice.”
The ice plant was taken offline in mid-August to go through scheduled maintenance, repairs and upgrades and was shifted to a temporary external unit installed behind the ice park in early-August, according to the release.
The external unit started experiencing pump failures on Aug. 29, and despite emergency repairs and installation of replacement parts, the system hasn’t been able to keep the temperature low enough to make or maintain ice on the rink for several days.
The Ice Bears general manager Ryan Armstrong said the team has replaced practicing with vast amounts of ice cardio, team meetings and system breakdowns.
“These are the vital parts of hockey that are hard to improve on while on the ice,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong, who took over general manager duties in September 2018, said the ice rink closing down has an effect on the team, but it’s not as negative as one might think.
“This is our first obstacle, and our players have an opportunity to grow closer to each other and bond as a team,” Armstrong said
The Ice Bears are putting an emphasis on preparation for the upcoming season.
Armstrong said the players are getting plenty of cardio that is being orchestrated by the coaching staff, and he expects the conditioning levels to be apparent by the start of the season.
“The guys have been keeping it positive,” Ice Bears head coach Jeremy Law said. “They know it’s just one of those unfortunate situations. We have an old team — these guys know facing a little adversity never hurt anyone.”
The team has gotten help from a local business — Genesis Health Clubs has been giving the team free spin classes since the failure occurred.
Spin classes are usually intense hour-long sessions of indoor cycling on a machine. Cycling weekly is said to possibly burn over 800 calories in a single hour.
“None of us had really done that before,” senior goaltender Brady Griffin said. “We definitely have more respect for those that do it now — it’s not easy.”
Law said the team may travel to a rink in St. Louis, Kansas City or Arkansas to get some ice time in the meantime.
The ice plant failure occurred sometime on Thursday, Aug. 29, right when the Ice Bears were about to begin their third practice.
Law said Jordan Valley Ice Park has been giving the team frequent updates on the situation. The park board estimates it will take 10 days to rebuild the ice and open the facility, according to the release.
While not practicing before the season starts is challenging, Law said that it’s better that it happened now versus a different part of the season.
“It could have been a lot worse,” Law said. “It isn’t great, but I think the timing is a lot better than it could’ve been.”
As the season approaches, Armstrong’s excitement level remains high despite the ice rink situation at Jordan Valley Ice Park.
“We are all looking at this as a glass half full,” Armstrong said. “We are going to be a much stronger team on the ice due to the amount of off-ice team building players and coaches are accomplishing. The team schedule has also changed a little, so fan support this year will be more important than ever.”
The Ice Bears home opener will be Friday, Oct. 4, against league opponent University of Colorado.