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Rink skates to its opening

Jay Hamburger, OF THE RECORD STAFF
Jessica Repko, a worker at the new Park City ice rink, sorts some skates in anticipation of Friday night's planned opening of the facility at Quinn's Junction. Scott Sine/Park Record
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Hockey players at the new Park City ice rink probably expect a weekend-warrior type goalie in the net when they lace up their skates.

But they may encounter someone a little more skilled.

Rick Tabaracci, who lives in the Snyderville Basin, is a former NHL goalie who spent more than a decade fending off slap shots from the world’s best while playing for the Washington Capitals, the Calgary Flames and the Winnipeg Jets.

"It tends to be the position that gets the best athletes in minor hockey, with kids," Tabaracci, who grew up in hockey crazed Toronto, said in a Friday interview, just hours before the ice rink was scheduled to debut with an opening gala.

Tabaracci planned to be at the event, when City Hall and the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District celebrate the opening of what will be among the grandest of the area’s recreation offerings.

The ice rink, under construction for almost a year, will anchor a recreation complex with playing fields, located at Quinn’s Junction, nearby the National Ability Center campus.

The city and recreation district planned to open the rink at 6 p.m. Friday during an invitation-only ceremony and, over the weekend, complimentary skating will be offered. Tickets, which are free, are needed for the opening weekend. Registration is available on the Internet, http://www.pcice.org , or people can pick them up at the ice rink if there are tickets remaining.

"I was actually amazed that we didn’t have one with the size of the population here," Tabaracci said about a facility.

On Wednesday, a few people tested the ice, declaring that it was in good shape.

"It felt good. I’m no expert but have been skating a few times over in Midway. The first time the sun shined, it made the ice soft over there," said Matt Twombly, who is City Hall’s construction manager for the ice rink.

Twombly, who grew up playing hockey in Boston, spent about a half an hour on the ice.

"It’s been a long time coming to get the building open," Twombly said.

Stacey Noonan, the general manager of the recreation complex, agreed.

"The community has waited a long, long time to see this ice rink built, up and running," she said, describing it as, "Park City’s newest playground."

Noonan expects that the construction crews will continue working as the ice rink opens, finishing minor work like readying a multi-purpose room.

The first season runs through May 27. The rink is scheduled to reopen for the 2006-2007 winter on Sept. 1.

The rink won widespread support from Parkites and people in the Snyderville Basin, culminating in ballot-box victories for bonds in both places. The voters in the city and the Basin each pledged $2 million to the project, which had a price tag of $4.8 million. City Hall covered the $800,000 shortfall and plans to recoup the money through the sale of naming rights. The supporters see the ice rink as needed complement to the rest of Park City’s winter-sports offerings and there was not much opposition.

The 46,000-square-foot arena features an Olympic-sized ice rink measuring 100 feet by 200 feet, larger than a regulation NHL rink. Public-skate times are scheduled as are ice time for leagues, such as those for adult hockey players and broomball competitors.

Park City Councilman Roger Harlan, who said he voted for the ice rink bond, said he senses the same excitement surrounding the ice rink as he did when the city opened a skateboard park several years ago. He said lots of people of different ages will enjoy the rink.

"People 70 years old can go out there and skate and have a grand time," Harlan said.

He said he wants to be on the ice soon.

I’m going to get a pair of skates," he said. "First of all, I’m going to try not to break my skull."

For more information about programs and general information about the ice rink, visit the Web site, http://www.pcice.org .


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