Esko Mites play first hockey game at facility rebuilt after floodExactly six months to the day after flood waters swamped the Esko School District’s sports complex and destroyed the hockey shack, Esko youth hockey players took
Exactly six months to the day after flood waters swamped the Esko School District’s sports complex and destroyed the hockey shack, Esko youth hockey players took to the ice for their first home game of the season last Thursday. Mite 1 players laced up their skates in a rebuilt warming house before facing off in a scrimmage against players from Irving’s youth hockey program, which also was flooded out, and from Morgan Park, which is now sharing ice with Irving players.
“The fact that we are playing hockey in Esko at all this winter is such a credit to the hard work of a lot of parents and community volunteers,” said Steve Lanthier, president of the Esko Youth Hockey and Skating Association. “This summer, it looked really doubtful that we’d be able to pull this off. But we had people who wouldn’t give up. They put in hours and hours of their time tearing apart and rebuilding the hockey shack. And quite frankly, it looks better now than it did before.”
Heavy rains last June caused the Midway River to flood its banks, filling the hockey shack with several feet of water. That led to extensive mold problems and other damage. As a result, the building had to be completely gutted.
In November, Esko voters approved a sports facilities referendum, which includes funding to build a new multi-use facility that will serve as a warming house, locker rooms and storage. However, that building will not be ready until the 2013-14 season.
Recognizing the importance of the hockey shack for the entire Esko community – it’s open for free skating throughout the winter, as well as for birthday parties, meetings and other community events – volunteers went to work to rebuild. Significant donations were given by the Minnesota Power Foundation and the Northland Foundation to help fund the project. Donations are still needed to help cover the rebuilding costs. Anyone wishing to contribute can send their donation to the Esko Youth Hockey Association, in care of Republic Bank, 3 Thomson Road, Esko, MN 55733.
The Esko Youth Hockey Association is an all-volunteer organization that serves children ages 4-9 who play at the Mite 1 and Mite 2 level. The hockey association also maintains the ice rinks in Esko for the community to use at no charge, and teaches Learn to Skate classes through the Esko community education program. The Esko hockey shack is located at 62 Canosia Road in Esko. For more information, visit eskohockey.com.