After 18-months, skating community looks forward to return of Ice Palace

Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 6:02 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Although Hawaii’s skating community is small, the Ice Palace has long been the state’s home for hockey and figure skating enthusiasts.

And with the facility closed over the last 18 months because of the pandemic and renovations, many are anxiously awaiting the rink’s return.

“I was in the building the day we announced we were closing and I think back then, none of us realized how serious it was going to be, so we all thought it would be a couple weeks out and we’d get back on the ice,” said figure skating coach Brock Huddleston.

Huddleston coached youth figure skaters for nearly 10 years, but with no end to the closure in sight, he left Hawaii and found a coaching job in Washington State.

Huddleston worked with about 15-students here in the islands and continues to coach some through online sessions, while others moved to keep training with him.

“One of the things as coaches we really try to emphasize is that in skating right, you fall down, but then get back up,” Huddleston explained. “When things get tough, you keep going and I think that with COVID especially, everything has been turned upside down, but it really shows the dedication these kids have and it shows their resilience.”

Also left waiting with the rink thawing was the palace’s adult hockey league.

Matt Gilbertson is among the many who played games at the rink regularly for 30-years.

“It’s sort of like surfing for me, it’s my surfing,” Gilbertson said. “I’m from Minnesota and I was born with hockey skates on my feet and played all the way through my life, played in Europe, played semipro in some places. It’s just become my core.”

Echoing that sentiment is Gilbertson’s fellow league member Tim Greenleaf.

“It means a lot to us because you work all day long, five days a week, six days a week,” Greenleaf said. “You look forward to those three one-hour games every two weeks or whatever, you miss it.”

Ice Palace management says renovations are on track to for a fall reopening.

When details are announced, there won’t be a shortage of anyone geared up and ready to return.

“I’m waiting for that call,” Gilbertson said. “It’s kinda like being in the NHL draft. I’m waiting for the call. It’s been fun to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs and all that, but that just makes me chomp at the bit even more.”

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