Truro junior A squad takes to the ice for first time at RECC
TRURO - When the Truro Bearcats acquired Grant West in December, there were three big draws to the Hubtown for the forward.
Coming from the Campbellton Tigers, West knew the Bearcats were one of the MHL's top teams. He also knew playing in Truro offered him the chance to compete in the Fred Page Cup this spring.
And he knew the team would soon be moving into its new digs at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre (RECC).
After months of delays, the Bearcats finally took to the ice at their new home for the first time Monday in a late-afternoon practice.
"This is a team you want to be on," West said after the hour-and-a-half session. "Right now there's a lot of excitement about moving out of the old rink and we'll see how the new one treats us. It's a beautiful facility so far."
The $48-million building was originally slated to open in September in time for the Bearcats to hold their season opener there. But numerous delays have pushed the opening date to March 2, when the Metro Shipbuilders come to town. It will be Truro's third-to-last regular season tilt.
In the meantime, the Bearcats have been playing in their traditional home at Colchester Legion Stadium.
But according to the players, the wait was well worth it.
"When you look around it's an amazing rink," Bearcats rookie Alex Hazelhurst said. "We were all excited. The rink we're in now is getting old and we're excited to get in the new rink."
The Bearcats spent the first 30 minutes of Monday's practice ringing shots around the boards and off the glass to familiarize themselves with the bounces. Then they got down to their usual drills before taking the final 15 minutes for a free shootaround. The team came off the ice mid-way through their ice time for the shiny new Zamboni to make a trip around.
Several of the workers still putting the finishing touches on the building took a minute to poke their heads in and watch the players fly around the ice.
The practice was not open to the public due to work still going on inside the building.
The rink, named Credit Union Arena, is almost ready to host the its first junior A hockey game. Some fine-tuning needs to be done to the ice, which players said was a little soft Monday. Several skyboxes will also be added before the Fred Page Cup.
"But as far as our room and the bench goes it's a lot of space and we're looking forward to it," West said.
The Bearcats will continue to practice at RECC for the rest of the week before bidding farewell to Colchester Legion Stadium Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against the Yarmouth Mariners.
"Hopefully (the new arena) will attract some more fans," Hazelhurst said. "It'll be amazing to play in here for sure."