The arena, located in Plymouth, Michigan, was acquired on April 1, 2015, and renovations began almost immediately. Chief among them was the facility adding 20,000 square feet to accommodate the move of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program from nearby Ann Arbor.
Within the remodeling project was the addition of a 9,800-square-foot workout facility to meet the needs of the athletes who train there. The new workout facility at USA Hockey Arena is more than three times the space than the NTDP had in Ann Arbor and it is providing benefit to the NTDP and other national teams.
“It allows us to do a lot more not only with the NTDP players, but other U.S. national teams,” said Scott Monaghan, senior director of operations for the NTDP and vice president of USA Hockey Arena. “Our women’s program had a tryout camp here back in December and they were able to utilize that whole facility and break into two groups. That’s a huge addition, because a part of it at the elite level is the off-ice training and development, building the bodies up and we are able to provide that here.”
The two existing locker rooms were also rebuilt with a locker room suite added. During the regular season, they house the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams and are then utilized by U.S. national teams during various events.
“In terms of the players, we upgraded the locker room facilities from what we had. We added hydrotherapy. We added a kitchen for the players where they can make their own food.”
USA Hockey Arena Team USA Locker Room
The NTDP athletes and coaches have certainly enjoyed the expanded weight room.
“The remodel really allows us to accommodate all 45 or 46 players, which was a difficult task before,” said John Wroblewski, head coach of the U.S. National Under-17 Team. “It really makes things a lot better for all national teams that come in, whether it’s our men’s, women’s or junior teams. The facility can accommodate all types.”
The 20,000-square-foot build out, which wrapped up in Spring 2016, also needed to accommodate the NTDP staff, which meant additional offices and a conference center being added.
“Both the original staff of the building and our staff in Ann Arbor, we had people working at countertops and in corners,” said Monaghan. “Now we have nice cubicles with office space."
The next phase in giving USA Hockey Arena more of a “USA Hockey feel” is by gradually retrofitting, noted Monaghan.
“We are doing some branding, getting up some displays about the history of USA Hockey and the different things it does,” he said. “A lot of kind of piece by piece stuff, and a lot of behind the scenes stuff. With a 20-year-old building, trying to keep up with upkeep, too.”
USA Hockey Arena’s transition into a state-of-the-art facility is all part of the plan to bring in large-scale international events that will attract hockey fans from all over the world.
Already, the arena has hosted a number of prominent international events, including the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship, in which the U.S. Women’s National Team claimed gold for the fourth straight year.
Team USA went undefeated to claim gold on home ice
“We think it’s great for the fans,” said Monaghan about adding big events. “Michigan’s a hockey-mad market and they’ve taken well to the international events that we’ve done so far. We had three sellouts for Women’s Worlds. We have 3,400, close to a sellout, when the U17s played Russia two years ago. We want to make that a staple in part of what we do all the time.”
There are a number of events planned at USA Hockey Arena this coming season, including: the Under-18 Five Nations Tournament in February 2018, the U.S. National Under-18 Team hosting University of Miami Ohio on Oct. 13 and Michigan State University on Dec. 16 and the USA Hockey Youth Tier I 15 National Championships in April 2018.
The next big event at USA Hockey Arena is the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase, will run July 28-Aug. 5. The showcase, which is being held in Plymouth for the second consecutive year, was previously labeled ‘USA Hockey’s National Junior Evaluation Camp’ and was annually in Lake Placid, New York. The changes – from the name to the location – are all a result of the event’s growth.
“The event’s gotten too big,” said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey and general manager of the 2018 U.S. National Junior Team. “The amount of people that want to see it continues to grow, so we wanted to get into a facility that can hold it. Last year was a real positive as far as the talent level on the ice and the interest fans showed, so we hope to see that again this year.”
It’s easy to understand the event’s growth. Over the years, this week-long event has become the first step for participating nations to begin determining which players will represent their nation at the coming year’s IIHF World Junior Championship.
This year, the United States will welcome Canada, Finland and Sweden for a week of 12 international competitions. As in previous years, the U.S. will have 42 of the best U.S. players under the age of 20 separated into two teams: USA White and USA Blue.
Johannson said the roster splits has two benefits. As a player, the roster split gives everyone an opportunity at seeing quality ice time in order to showcase their skills. For the staff, it allows them to see a large portion of the talent pool and explore a player’s versatility.
“There’s certainly guys on these rosters that we think are going to have to help us on power play or help us on penalty kill,” Johannson said. “There’s been a little bit of mix that way so that will allow the opportunity for those guys to fit into that part of the component. As a staff, it really allows us to get to know some of these kids a little better and how they would fit in a team dynamic both on and off the ice.”
Both Team USA squads will play three games before the players are trimmed down to one team on Aug. 2. The U.S. will then have just one team competing in the final three games of the Showcase against the other three countries.
The Canadians, just like the U.S., have two teams competing for the first portion of the event: Canada Red and Canada White. Finland and Sweden, meanwhile, will have one roster throughout the event.
Johannson noted the showcase has become a great event for fans as it provides them a chance to see future NHL stars. With 116 of the 144 participating players having already been drafted by NHL teams – and another 28 player still eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft – it is safe to say the level of play will be exceptional.
“The depth of the player and quality of the player that comes from all four countries creates some really good hockey in late July/August,” Johannson said. “Two years ago, Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine – the top two picks in the 2016 NHL Draft – were playing in this event. I think over the last three or four years the magnitude of the World Juniors continues to grow, and a big reason for that is because the level of play and in some cases how quickly some of these players matriculate into pretty significant players in the NHL."
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
|Sat., July 29||USA White vs. Finland||W, 4-2|
|USA Blue vs. Sweden||L, 3-4|
|Sun., July 30||USA Blue vs. Finland||W, 4-1|
|USA White vs. Sweden||W, 4-3|
|Tues., Aug. 1||Canada Red vs. USA White||W, 8-2|
|Canada White vs. USA Blue||L, 1-2|
|Wed., Aug. 2||USA vs. Sweden||W, 3-2|
|Fri., Aug. 4||Finland vs. USA||W, 4-3|
|Sat., Aug. 5||USA vs. Canada||W, 7-5|