SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — Being on the ice and playing hockey has become second nature for Vincent Cybul. He’s been playing hockey since he was five years old and skating since he was three.
On this day Vincent and his teammate Patrick Dunleavy, who both play hockey for West Ranch High School, are hitting the hockey puck around the cube in Santa Clarita.
Formerly known as Ice Station Valencia, the facility was purchased by the city of Santa Clarita in August for $14.2 million.
In March of last year the facility had closed after 20 years and hockey players found themselves without a home rink.
“I’ve been playing at the Simi Valley Iceoplex, they’ve allowed our team to come out and practice since our home rink has been shut down,” said Cybul, but he added that it took players between 30 and 45 minutes to get there depending on traffic. “I know a lot of the players who have had to drop out of hockey cause they can’t drive to Simi Valley just to play because it’s too far.” said Dunleavy.
The city of Santa Clarita said it’s not just an investment in youth sports but also in the local economy. Of all the sports the city of Santa Clarita works with, ice hockey brings in the most revenue through hotel stays.
“A lot of people come and watch ice hockey so our hotels get filled up, so we do get a benefit. We were getting a benefit before but now that the city owns it we’ll even have a greater benefit because we’ll have more control over the type of tournaments and even schedule more events at this facility,” said Frank Oviedo, the assistant city manager for the city of Santa Clarita.
The L.A. Kings will also be in charge of operations which means they’ll be handling programming, including public skating, hockey leagues, seasonal camps, hockey and figure skating clinics, and special events.
“The end goal is always to be in the NHL, but even if I don’t get there I want to enjoy my ride there,” said Cybul.
For players it means they are closer to their ice rink and have greater access so that they can practice.