“People were passionate about getting back on the ice,” said Dave Stevens, who is the Mid-South Ice House director of hockey development.
The rink, which is co-owned by Jack Rogers, had to shut its doors on March 22 due to the pandemic, and for almost five agonizing months it was silent inside the building.
For the first time since the Mid-South Ice House opened its doors in September 2011, Rogers had the ice completely removed to expose the sand-based floor. Rogers and his staff were nervous about the ice being taken out, but that was the only option. To keep the ice in and the arena functioning, it was going to cost too much.
Once it was time to reopen in mid-August, it was a relief for Rogers to re-install the ice.
“Everything’s been going pretty good,” Rogers said. “We didn’t know how everything was going to pan out.”
Stevens is happy to be back on the ice with kids who share his passion for the sport in their tight-knit community.
“Because we’re a small market in a small area, the people that do come to the rink, they’re family,” Stevens said. “It’s good to see the faces coming back that you haven’t seen for a while. Everybody took a break, so slowly but surely everyone is coming back to the rink.”
Mid-South Ice House opened back up to a number of safety measures that Rogers is expecting will keep COVID-19 out of the building.
The rink staff enforces wearing a mask at all times. There is no exception.
“I think one of the things that helped us is we’ve received pretty strict local COVID protocols and we enforce them even if it means asking someone to leave the rink,” Rogers said. “We’ve had to do that, but not more than once or twice.”
Having players and parents wear masks and keep their distance from one another has been a difference-maker in Rogers’ eyes.
“Paying a lot of attention to that has helped us during this time,” Rogers said. “We’ve also had a policy that when your mask comes off, your helmet goes on; when your helmet comes off, your mask goes on.”