Riverhead’s newest sports attraction is gearing up for its opening next weekend.
The Peconic Hockey Rink, located at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton, is getting ready for its grand opening ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 25, where honored guests, including the first New York Islanders’ team captain, will be in attendance.
The Peconic Hockey Foundation, the Wading River-based nonprofit organization founded in 2015 supported by the New York Islanders, will be operating the year-round NHL-sized ice rink at the town park.
The rink, which is under a dome designed to keep its ice from melting, is being dedicated to Edwin Westfall, the first captain of the New York Islanders. Westfall will be at next Saturday’s ceremony, along with Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky, former New York hockey player Pat LaFontaine and Sparky the Dragon — the Islander’s mascot, according to the rink’s service and skating director, Kim Interdonato.
The organization was putting the finishing touches on the rink this week by “painting the ice” with the necessary lines for ice hockey and decorating it with the logos of the Peconic Hockey Foundation and of Riverhead Building Supply, the Islanders, and other sponsors of the project.
The organization is also finishing up construction on a skate rental room, five locker rooms, a room for coaches, a pro shop and a room for hosting birthday parties.
Interdonato said the foundation has been “working nonstop” to get the rink ready for opening. “This place is built on love. There are volunteers that are coming out, and everybody’s just trying to pitch in and trying to get it done,” she said.
The hockey rink, which will be donated to Riverhead Town after construction is completed, is being managed by Peconic Hockey pursuant to a 15-year long license agreement reached last year. In addition to the ice rink, a deck rink will be built outside of the dome structure. Peconic Hockey Foundation is hoping to build a more permanent facility in the future that can accommodate multiple ice rinks, Interdonato said.
Peconic Hockey, which has several youth travel teams, is planning a variety of programs for both children and adults, including classes to teach and build skating and hockey skills, as well as hockey leagues. The organization is also looking to host figure skating shows and competitions, Interdonato said. More information about programs can be found on the rink’s website peconicicerinks.com.
The plan to have Peconic Hockey bring a hockey rink to Riverhead has been years in the making. The organization has operated throughout the East End at seasonal outdoor rinks on the South Fork, but has been looking for a more permanent home to host hockey programs for the last few years and had been in negotiations with Riverhead for a site since at least 2020. Suffolk County currently has only three indoor ice rinks, located in Dix Hills, Kings Park and Hauppauge, and East End hockey players of all ages travel long distances at all hours of the day and night for ice time.
The project was considered for Veterans Memorial Park, then considered for Stotzky Park, before it was agreed it would be hosted at Veterans Memorial Park. The contract between Peconic Hockey and the town requires the town to pay for up to $150,000 in electricity costs at the site and to build bathroom facilities near the site. A temporary bathroom facility is currently at the site now, as the town has not secured all the funding it needs to build the required septic system.
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