Fans had the opportunity to test the main ice this past weekend at Nationwide Arena as The Blue Jackets kicked off “Ice Week” with a Season Ticket Holder Open Skate and 24 Hours of Hockey. More than 200 Blue Jackets Season Ticket Holders attended the skate and saw firsthand a few of the upgrades at Nationwide Arena, including the LED screens on the new Dispatch Media Center and the renovated locker room.
The puck dropped for 24 Hours at 8 p.m. on Friday when the AAA Blue Jackets Pee Wee team (ages 11-12) took on Team Ohio on the main ice at Nationwide Arena. The AAA Blue Jackets won by a score of 4-1 against Team Ohio. Following the AAA game, six teams from The Chiller Adult Hockey League took the ice from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. on Saturday. The CAHL is one of the largest adult hockey leagues in the country, boasting 171 teams and more than 3,000 players across Columbus.
Jeff Sturm, captain of two CAHL teams, played in one of the drop-in games at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday. Sturm said that despite the early morning, the opportunity to skate on NHL ice was worth it. “You’re getting up to play hockey,” said Sturm. “It’s not like you’re getting up to mow the lawn. You’re doing something you love.”
On Saturday, the ice belonged to various local youth hockey teams as well as the OSU Club Hockey team and the Ohio Sled Hockey team, who had players come to Columbus from all over Ohio to play in the game. “The kids had a blast,” said Kelly Fenster, a general manager for the Ohio Sled Hockey team. “They were laughing and really enjoying themselves, especially when some of the Blue Jackets staff got on sleds and tried to join in.”
The fun lasted throughout Sunday as Nationwide Arena and The Blue Jackets hosted another Open Skate as well as a USA Hockey ADM Clinic. In total, approximately 450 people played hockey on Nationwide Arena ice during the weekend festivities.
Ice Week continues this week with more opportunities for fans to enjoy the ice at Nationwide Arena.