Belmont Ice Complex closure affects local hockey teams

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 | 4:16 PM

The Freeport and the Armstrong hockey teams will be without a home arena for the next month.

On Monday, the Belmont Ice Complex in Kittanning announced that an issue with the rink’s ice refrigeration system forced a closure until the problem can be fixed. After determining that the problem was a lack of refrigerant and a dysfunctional controller, Belmont Complex director Gary Montebell took the necessary steps to resolve the problems and consulted a few different companies.

“From talking with these companies, it is about a two- to three-week process to get it up and being able to skate,” Montebell said in an email. “We hope to have ice no later than Oct. 31.”

Until then, the Yellowjackets and the River Hawks will have to manage. The PIHL has already rescheduled games for both teams. Freeport’s games on Oct. 3 against Indiana and Oct. 31 against Thomas Jefferson have been moved to the Alpha Ice Complex at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., respectively.

“It was pretty chaotic for a little while there,” Freeport coach Kelly Mason said. “It was an up-and-down thing. We didn’t know if it was going to be long term or short term.”

Armstrong had three games moved by the PIHL. Their Oct. 3 game against Hampton was moved to the Alpha Ice Complex at 9 p.m., and their other two home games in October against Shaler (Oct. 17) and Hempfield (Oct. 24) were moved to Frozen Pond Arena at 9:10 p.m.

Outside of games, the biggest concern for both teams was availability of ice for practice time.

“We were lucky enough to find some ice time for one practice a week from now until the end of October,” Mason said. “We’re good. We lucked out. It’s not ideal, but we’re making the best of it.”

In the past, the Yellowjackets only practiced once a week, but heading into this year, Mason said they were going to be able to add weekday practices.

“This year the board has done a good job of fundraising and has been efficient and we were able to add weekday practices to get things going,” Mason said. “So, we’re really excited for that to get fixed and get back in there as soon as possible.”

Both teams start their season on road. The Yellowjackets will travel to Robert Morris‘ Island Sports Center on Sept. 30 to take on Sewickley Academy at 9:15 p.m. Armstrong will play Montour just two hours earlier on that same day.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .

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