One thing that can be said about Delta Junction is that we are a proud hockey town and have been for many years.
In 1978, a flooded tennis court was Delta Junction’s first public opportunity to skate, and in 1993 the current ice arena was constructed, which bears the name Liewer-Olmstead Ice Arena, recognizing the work done by Ron Liewer and Archie Olmstead to support hocky in Delta Junction. In 2009, the outdoor multi-purpose rink was constructed next to the Liewer-Olmstead ice arena, giving the public a constant place to skate during the winter.
Prior to the ice arena being constructed, the Delta Huskies had to play all of their hockey games outdoors, and the players and fans were treated to the brutal winds of winter and the always-present Tanana River silt on the ice.
Through the years, the Delta-Greely Skating Association (DGSA) has provided programs for all ages to learn the art of skating through hockey or figure skating. These programs help build character, camaraderie, and good sportsmanship – skills that are carried all through life.
Through the steadfast determination and spirit provided by the DGSA, hockey has continued to grow, thrive, and excel in our community.
DGSA was invited by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks ice hockey team to come to Fairbanks for an ice hockey camp. Once the Nanooks found out that Delta Junction has a very large group of young hockey players, they agreed to instead come down to Delta and host the camp at the ice arena.
For two days, the Nanooks hockey team spent time with the Delta skaters on the ice for some very close up and personal coaching and encouragement.
Matt Koethe, a forward for the Nanooks, said that the intention of the hockey camp was not to work solely on plays and technique, although there was some of that included, but rather on keeping the camp fun and the kids engaged.
One of the games that they played was for all of the kids to be at one end of the rink and then have to skate past the Nanooks players to the other end of the rink without getting tagged out. It took several times going back and forth before all the kids were tagged out.
To make the game even more interesting, now it was up to the kids to try and tag out the Nanooks. The Nanooks players got to showcase some of their skating skills keeping just out of reach of the kids who were trying to tag them.
It was plainly clear that everyone on the ice was having a good time based on the huge smiles.
Something else that became evident during this game of tag is that all of the kids were skating to have fun. Even some of the children who were less than steady during other parts of this camp were skating like pros.
The most amazing part of this ice hockey camp was the positive and uplifting spirit that the Nanooks brought to Delta Junction. Plans are already in the works for the Nanooks to return again next year.