The Wildcats were treated to a tour Saturday morning of the new Prince William Ice Center (PWICE). The rink is still under construction, so the group donned hard hats and were given an inside peak of what will become their home rink next season.  The newly erected building is probably the most wildly anticipated structure the area has seen since the original rink collapsed during the February 2010 Blizzard.  Since then, hockey players and teams have had to seek ice at other rinks in Northern Virginia and beyond.  The Wildcats were among the many exiled to other rinks, having played the entire 2010-2011 season on the road, traveling to rinks sometimes as far as Cabin John, MD.
Many thanks to go to PWICE owner, Bill Hutzler, who led the hour long tour which was both informative and interesting. Bill first led the group through the atrium entrance to the Olympic rink. There was a lot of activity at the site as construction continued over the weekend, all to keep on schedule for the rink's projected opening at the end of August.  The cavernous Olympic rink is in the initial stages of assembly, having received the first supply of sand.  Bill explained the Olympic rink took approximately 21 truckloads of sand, and the NHL rink received 20 truckloads just to get to the current point.  Heating pipes to prevent permafrost are due to be installed next week, followed the chilling pipes used to freeze the ice.

PWICE: Olympic Rink

Next, the group toured the locker rooms, the NHL rink and the refrigeration room. The refrigeration room will house two electric Olympia Ice Resurfacers that were used in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Bill pointed out an area in the room where ice cut from resurfacing will be dumped to melt.  The resulting water will then be filtered and reused in resurfacing the ice.  

PWICE: NHL Rink and Locker Rooms

The tour continued upstairs to the Mezzanine Level, where the group got to see the new weight room that overlooks the NHL rink.  For a nominal fee, teams and players will be able to use the room for off-ice conditioning or pre-game warm-up. 

PWICE: Weight Room overlooking the NHL Rink

PWICE: Mezzanine level

For the Wildcats in attendance, it was an enticing preview of what is to come next season. The 2011-2012 hockey season is just around the corner and with the new and improved PWICE, the season promises to be an exciting one for the area's hockey teams and skaters that have long awaited this new facility. 

Thanks again to Bill Hutzler for a great tour.  Be sure to check out the rink's website for updates on the opening in August: PWICE  

PWICE: Overlooking the NHL Rink