Prince William Ice Center: Home of Ice Sports and Family Fun

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By Tracy Shevlin | Photos by Delia Engstrom

When it first opened in 1996, the Prince William Ice Center was a little-known facility in an unmarked metal warehouse building in Woodbridge, Virginia. Shortly after Pat Insley and Bill Hutzler purchased it in 2008, the facility collapsed during a blizzard in 2010 resulting in a total loss. Other owners might have closed permanently, but the center re-opened in September 2011. Prince William Living spoke to Insley to learn more about the improved building, which houses two rinks and is home to a number of winter sports and activities.

Photo By Delia EngstromPWL: Following the roof collapse in 2010, did you consider closing the doors?

Insley: We decided rather quickly to rebuild even though we had lost everything down to the dirt. We recognized that our facility was truly unique to the county and that it played an important role in our community. Working with the Prince William County government and our general contractor, R.W. Murray, we adopted an aggressive strategy to rebuild. It was a great lesson in learning about design and construction, as well as all of the new building codes. The new building is stronger, ADA compliant and able to withstand more severe weather.

Since we were designing a completely new building, we decided that we wanted to be able to support a wider variety of ice sports than the typical area rink. We host the regular sports such as ice hockey, figure skating, and synchronized skating in addition to public skate sessions, lessons for all ages, and broomball on both of our rinks. Our NHL standard sized rink (85 feet by 200 feet) is also designed to host some special ice sports, in particular, curling and sled hockey. Our Olympic-sized rink (100 feet by 200 feet) is able to host national level events, including speed skating competitions, as well as “Theater on Ice” shows, our annual figure skating shows and competitions, and our junior hockey games. This rink also has event lighting, which is very popular during our evening public skates.

PWL: It seems hockey has become more mainstream than it used to be. Have you observed that at the center?

Insley: Yes, we are definitely seeing growth in the popularity of hockey as well as all of the ice sports hosted at PWIC. The NHL and the Washington Capitals have been very active in their efforts to bring hockey to our communities, and we are involved in many of these programs. Historically, cost has been one barrier to keeping youth out of hockey because parents were reluctant to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment for a sport that might not be a good fit for their child. Now, there are programs at PWIC and elsewhere that help families minimize costs.

When we reopened in 2011, we committed to making hockey more accessible to local families by investing in 100 sets of starter equipment that can be rented by participants in our Learn to Play Hockey program run by the rink’s Potomac Hockey Academy. This is a great way for kids to try the sport without families having to make huge investments in equipment.

The Washington Capitals also developed a free equipment program for children learning to play hockey. Photo By Delia EngstromPartnering with Reebok/CCM and the NHL, eligible children 4-8 years old, who are new to hockey and participating in a Learn to Play Hockey program or similar training program, can get their first set of equipment free of charge, compliments of the Washington Capitals.

We also offer our Try Hockey For Free and Try Skating For Free programs throughout the year to encourage people to learn to skate or learn to play hockey at no cost. These are unique opportunities for our local clubs to step up and help, and we get great support from the National Blades Synchronized Skating Club and the Potomac Patriots Hockey Club. We also have an extensive Learn to Skate and Learn to Play Hockey program of classes that we hold year-round for adults and children as young as four years old to begin their journey in skating and hockey.

PWL: Tell us about the other programming and events that are offered at the Prince William Ice Center.

Insley: We offer classes, camps and activities for all ages and skill levels. From youth hockey and co-ed adult hockey to figure skating and fundraisers, we also host a variety of community events at the center.

During the winter, it’s an especially fun time at the center. For the holidays, we have special events for all ages.

Photo By Delia EngstromFor toddlers and pre-schoolers, we offer Snow & Story times. During these sessions, toddlers and pre-schoolers play in dunes of shaved ice with toys and sleds for 40 minutes and then are treated to cookies, hot chocolate and a story. Groups and individuals are welcome.

We enjoy being active in the community and providing a location for our neighbors to meet. Because of the unique nature of our business, our facility is open until midnight almost every day. This allows more flexibility when reserving meeting space for the community. We are often asked to host bridal or baby showers and birthday parties. We just are not equipped to accommodate weddings, and yes, we have been asked about those, too.

Additionally, we host a variety of regular events, such as community meetings and monthly Red Cross blood drives. To reserve space, please contact Maureen Brennan at mbrennan@pwice.com.

Additional information on classes, events and programs can be found on our website at pwice.com and on our Facebook page.

Tracy Shevlin (tshevlin@princewilliamliving.com) is a native Virginian and long-time Manassas area resident. She is a graduate of George Mason University where she is also an office manager. Follow her on Twitter @nvalady1. 

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