Elizabeth Stidham Staff Writer
USA Hockey – the National Team Development Program — is moving its practice and game facilities from the Ann Arbor Ice Cube to the Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Mich.
While many questions are flooding the inboxes of the USA Hockey program regarding the move to Compuware, no plans have been made at this time to move the players to schools closer to their new arena.
“Our intention is to relocate the National Team Development Program to the (Plymouth) facility,” said Ron DeGregorio, president of the USA Hockey Foundation and USA Hockey Inc., in a recent press release announcing the pending deal in which the USA Hockey Foundation will purchase the Compuware Arena.
Since establishment in 1997, USA Hockey’s NTDP has been based at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube. However, the program began to send all of their student-athletes to Pioneer High School just eight years ago, after having them rotate between Pioneer and Huron High Schools. With the program likely moving to Plymouth, there is also talk of the possibility that the NTDP players will eventually transfer to the Plymouth school system. “(To lose the USA players), it would be a loss,” says Pioneer Assistant Principal Kevin Hudson. “The players have built relationships with the teachers and students.”
If the NTDP decides to move to Plymouth, and keep their athletes at Pioneer, there will be a 30-minute commute daily from Pioneer to Compuware Arena.
Recently, the USA Hockey players were informed that their schedules will potentially be reduced from five-hour school days, to four-hour school days to make the commute to Compuware easier. As well as a shorter school day, the players were informed that for safety reasons a hotel close to the rink would be used for overnight stays in case of inclement weather.
“I’m excited about the move. It’s a really nice, much bigger rink,” said Patrick Khodorenko, who plays on the under-17 team. “I think it would be good for the program. It’s a better facility; people who come to play will be more impressed with the base of the NTDP.”
Although it won’t affect him much, senior Jack Roslovic of the under-18 team thinks the move will benefit the program greatly. “It should broaden the fan base,” says Roslovic. “The cube has been a nice place to practice but it needs to be bigger.”
Compuware Sports Arena is home to many athletic programs, one being the Plymouth Whalers, a junior ice hockey team in the Ontario Hockey League. The Plymouth Whalers have been approved by the OHL to move to Flint, where they will be renamed as the Flint Firebirds.