COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The USA Hockey Foundation has finalized the purchase of Compuware Arena, effective today, and will take over operations of the Plymouth, Michigan, facility immediately.
“It’s an exciting day for us,” said Ron DeGregorio, president of The USA Hockey Foundation and USA Hockey. “There are a lot of people to thank, too many to mention them all, but I’d particularly like to recognize Tony Rossi for all of his hard work on this effort and also commend our Board for their vision and support throughout the process. Obviously there is much work ahead, but we look forward to the future and all the opportunities having this facility will bring.”
DeGregorio noted the facility will be called USA Hockey Arena and that it will serve as the new home for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, beginning with the 2015-16 season.
“We’re grateful to the Ann Arbor Ice Cube, which has been the home of the NTDP since it was founded in 1996,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of the USA Hockey Foundation and USA Hockey. “The good news is, that for fans in Ann Arbor, we will not be far away. Also, we very much look forward to welcoming the fans of the Plymouth Whalers and we’re confident they’ll enjoy the product they’ll see on the ice. Our two teams that make up the NTDP play in the USHL, which is the top junior hockey league in our country. Coupled with some of the college opponents that we'll host, as well as international competition, our schedule of games and events will be very attractive to fans.”
“There’s a lot to accomplish now that the sale is complete,” continued Ogrean. “We intend to have a formal press conference and community event later this spring and at that time will have more details related to what fans and the community can expect going forward.”
The purchase of the facility, which includes two ice sheets, also includes the drive-in movie business that operates in the arena parking lot during the summer months, C.J.’s Restaurant, and the arena pro shop. USA Hockey intends to continue operation of all three … USA Hockey Arena will remain the home of the Compuware youth hockey program … The NTDP is expected to re-locate to USA Hockey Arena over the course of the summer.
Things these days are different for 1976 U.S. Olympian Jim Warden. As a netminder turned assistant coach, he lived the game. Now, he admits he’s not a regular watcher of hockey – though he finds time to tune in during the Olympics and to watch his alma mater, Michigan Tech.
Yes, Warden admits, he’s easily found a life outside of the crease; but still there, strong as ever, are the memories that area created for him.
“Hockey was my life for many years and makes up the fabric of who I am now,” he writes. “I cherish every memory as I grow older.”
Warden could write a book on his time with USA Hockey and the bonds and memories formed. He graciously crafted this letter to share with our community.
To USA Hockey Alumni and Friends,
I rarely get to talk hockey, living in the mountains of North Carolina. Right now I feel like a retired preacher who is asked to give a sermon after 25 years of rocking on the porch, but I am excited to talk hockey once again.
I call Wilkesboro, N.C., home, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My time is spent working sales with Champion Buildings. If not there, I am playing golf with my dear friends at Oakwoods Country Club. Beyond that, most of my time is spent being a father, husband and caretaker of our family. I am blessed with good health and a wonderful wife, and I enjoy all that life is about.
For me, a large part of that life was hockey.
I am honored to have been an Olympic goaltender with the 1976 U.S. team, and I am proud to be a member of the 1972 U.S. World Cup team. In addition I’ve had the privilege to wear the red, white and blue for the 1975, 1978 and 1979 U.S. National Teams.
All of it was a good run for a kid from southern California.
Putting that USA jersey on for the first time is something that I’ll never forget. Bob Johnson was leading the U.S. team into the World Cup of Hockey and was looking for a solid netminder. At the time, I was playing regularly as a freshman at Michigan Tech. Badger Bob asked coach John MacInnes if I was available to play. I am so grateful he never gave me an option. Coach MacInnes told me that I was going to represent my country, and reminded me what an honor it was to do so, not only for me, but for Michigan Tech, too.
That was that.
That was also the beginning of my relationship with Bob Johnson. I could go on forever and tell a million stories about that man. I am eternally grateful for whatever it was that he saw in me. Bob was a bit quirky, but he was so passionate about the game. He breathed it dawn to dusk and I’m sure in his sleep. I played for him on the 1975 U.S. National Team, which led to the 1976 U.S. Olympic squad.
Playing in those ’76 Olympics is where I learned some of the most valuable lessons that this game has ever taught me. I learned that sometimes it is your day in the sun, sometimes it’s your opponents’. Not too many people realize that we were one period away from winning the bronze medal after defeating Finland, 5-4 – a game where we were heavy underdogs. We were down 1-0 going into the third period against West Germany, the “home” team with the Olympics being held in Innsbruck, Austria. In those days, the tournament was designed where all we had to do was earn a tie to capture bronze. On that day it was Germany’s day in the sun – we lost 4-1 and it was truly agonizing.
I went on to play for John Mariucci on the 1978 U.S. National Team in the World Championship – the first year that they were open to professional players.
My last time putting on the jersey for Team USA was in 1979 for the World Championship. I was chosen by Herb Brooks as the “professional” goalie to help prepare his team for the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. The other goalie was some kid from Boston University named Jim Craig. Herb got what he was looking for during those World Championships as Jimmy Craig played exceptional in his baptism of international hockey, and Herb’s system worked. We were competitive in every game and the college kids were instrumental and an integral part of our success – they won gold one year later after all.
I guess, in summary, it’s the players that I played with that I look back fondly on. My fellow Americans fighting and clawing during that era of NHL and Canadian dominance and the rise of the Russians – my teammates and coaches are what I remember most.
It was an honor to play with them and for them, and being an Olympian is truly a lifetime honor.