The Saints hockey season for both the men’s and women’s teams is in full swing and SLU students have been filing in and out of Appleton Arena every weekend. What many of these students do not know is that the ice at Appleton Arena is not used exclusively for varsity hockey. Appleton Arena hosts open skating and hockey at least three to four days a week. Anyone is welcome to lace ‘em up regardless of their skating ability. The open ice time sees male and female undergraduate students, graduate students, current and former faculty, university employees, and local community members. During open hockey, the nets are out and the pucks are plentiful. Players shoot around to warm up and then start a game of pick-up hockey for anybody who wants to play. Frequently a fully padded goalie or two will show up and make the game even more fun. Sometimes a few of the Skating Saints from the men’s or women’s hockey teams will come out and join some of their friends for a leisurely skate.
Open skating is Monday – Wednesday from 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. (Select Thursdays depending on the varsity schedule)
Open hockey is Monday – Wednesday from 12:45-1:45 p.m. (Select Thursdays depending on varsity schedule). (Make sure to bring a helmet!)
To some people, having the open ice time may not seem like a big deal, but for many SLU students it is. I personally know a handful of students who organize their class schedule around being able to skate at least once a week. “Lunch puck is the highlight of my Tuesdays! I wake up excited because of it,” says Beau Yaremko '18, an infielder for the Saints baseball team. “Laurentians love winter activities and they definitely love to skate. I have been able to meet many people and have made many new friends as a result of skating at Appleton. I definitely cannot forget to acknowledge the rink attendants who are always very pleasant to chat with each week.”
The way professor Joe Erlichman puts it: “The open ice time at Appleton allows me to mingle with students outside of the classroom on a recreational basis. There are many students that get to experience both sides of me, that is, of me teaching and me taking the puck away from them on the ice.”
The value of having access to free ice time at a hockey arena is rare. I have thought to myself, “When else in my life will I ever be able to skate freely on a weekly basis without being a part of an organized team?" Most likely never! That's why I embrace the opportunity to get out of class and hop onto the ice 10 minutes later. Being from Canada, I grew up skating regularly at an early age and I am impressed by the student accessibility to Appleton. Many Canadian universities do not even provide open ice time for students who are not a part of an organized team. I am going to continue to take advantage of the open ice at Appleton because playing “lunch puck” (a term that has engulfed open hockey) is one of the most enjoyable recreational activities available on campus. There is no better activity to clear your head for an hour than a skate at Appleton.
I ask everyone and anyone who owns skates or can borrow a pair from a friend to come out to Appleton to skate regardless of your ability. Do not be afraid if you feel your skating ability is lacking or non-existent. There are no Olympic judges or NHL scouts to impress out on the ice. There is no better physical activity that is unique to this climate than skating. Start out at the open skate and practice your skills. For the past couple of years that I have skated at Appleton, I noticed some students who had not skated more than a handful of times before they stepped onto the Appleton ice. A year later, I can barely recognize those same students as they whiz by me on the ice. I encourage every SLU student to take part in an original Laurentian tradition and skate at Appleton. It will be something you will remember and cherish long after your days at St. Lawrence. I know I will.