New Dek Hockey Rink Attracts Players to Graham ParkDec 30, 2014 12:09PM ● By Veronica Tucker
Partnering with Highmark, the foundation developed Project Power Play, a $2.3 million initiative funded by both the Penguins Foundation and Highmark in order to build 12 dek hockey rinks in Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas over a four-year period. “Hockey can be an expensive sport, and this project is a way to get more kids playing the game they love at a minimal investment, which also fits Highmark’s Healthy Initiatives program,” explained Dave Soltesz, president of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. “We work on programs that promote the health and wellness of kids by getting them up and outside playing sports.”
Ten of these rinks have been completed; they are located in Banksville Park, Brookline Memorial Park, Hosanna House/Sherwood Center, Graham Park, Lewis Park, North Park, Renzie Park, Richland Community Park, Riverside Park and Settlers Cabin Park. The final two rinks will be constructed this spring.
Pete Geis, director of Cranberry Township Parks, Recreation and Community Services, contacted the Foundation in 2013 about the possibility of constructing a dek hockey rink in Graham Park. “It did not take much convincing,” said Geis. “I initially spoke with Dave Soltesz and his excitement was immediate.”
Enthusiasm built as planning began. “It was easy to get a commitment from all parties to build the rink in Cranberry Township,” said Geis. “The challenge was presented in March 2014, and the foundation wanted the rink built and operational by September 2013, which was only six months to take the project from concept to reality. I didn’t think it was possible.”
Geis, new to Cranberry Township, quickly learned that sometimes the impossible can happen. With a concerted effort by Cranberry’s Engineering Department, Planning and Codes Department, IT Department and the Public Works Department, the dream became a reality. The facility, located in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Complex at Graham Park, was ready for use in late August.
All deks provided by Project Power Play are state-of-the-art. “The rinks are multi-purpose courts measuring 155’ x 75’ that include a premier dasher board system, sports court surface, scoreboard, player benches covered by metal shelters, a penalty box, goals and start-up dek hockey equipment,” said Soltesz. The rink and its associated components are completely funded through Project Power Play, which receives funding from the Pittsburgh Penguins and Highmark. Cranberry Township provided the infrastructure.
The grand opening took place on October 13, the week after official play began on the rink, and a month later, lights were added as a result of its growing popularity. Since its unveiling, many families in Cranberry Township have enjoyed the park’s new addition. “This rink provides the ability to advance the sport of hockey in Cranberry Township,” said Geis.
“We are already realizing our hopes,” added Soltesz. “On average, 250 new youth players are playing in organized leagues on each dek. Kids and adults can be found playing into the late evening hours.”