Arts & Entertainment

Capitals Turn Kettler Into Community Complex

A YOUTH HOCKEY TEAM SKATES at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. School and community teams have clamored to use the newly opened rink, the first inside the Virginia half of the Beltway. (Photo: News-Press)School and Community Teams, Skaters of All Skills and Ages Take Advantage of Area's Newest Rink

During the original formative stages of the Kettler Capitals Ice Rink, developers intended on designing a building in Ballston that would serve as a first-rate practice facility for D.C.'s NHL franchise, the Washington Capitals.

Since its inception however, the rink has become much more to a much larger number of people than just professional hockey types.

The Capitals, in an effort to give back to the community, opened the Kettler Rink to the public in November 2006 and now, nearly a year and a half later, the Ballston community as a whole has benefited from the Capitals’ generosity.

The Kettler Capitals Iceplex is the first indoor ice rink in the Capital Beltway in Virginia. It features two NHL-size rinks with seating to accommodate 1,200. Ironically, the Iceplex opened to the public before the Capitals even laid their skates on the ice for the first time, as the rink’s public grand opening occurred while the finishing touches were being placed on the Caps' locker rooms.

Today many local schools and organizations find themselves calling the Iceplex home. Local high schools such as Yorktown, Washington-Lee, West Springfield and T.C. Williams all skate on Kettler as their home ice, along with local colleges teams from Georgetown, George Mason, and the womens’ teams of George Washington and American University.

However, schools aren’t the only groups to benefit from the opening of the Iceplex. The Washington Little Caps, a USA Hockey Tier I youth hockey organization, now bases themselves out of the Iceplex, along with Team Maryland. Both are members of the Atlantic Youth Hockey League.

The Little Caps have historically been considered nomadic, moving between up to four rinks during the course of a season; however, thanks to the amenities provided at Kettler, the Little Caps finally have a permanent home for their players. The Dallas Stars’ Jeff Halpern and San Jose Sharks’ Jeremy Roenick each earned valuable travel experience with the Little Caps during their early years.

A local adult hockey league also exists at Kettler, as well as the “Mites on Ice” program, where three-or-four-year-old children get a chance to skate on the ice between periods of certain games.

Besides the amenities provided to these local organizations, anyone and everyone interested in a day on the ice can find reprieve at the Kettler Iceplex. Kettler features a skate rental service, figure skating and hockey lessons, as well as a “learn to skate” program for beginners not ready to take to the ice with the general public.

Those who remember their formative year birthday parties at ice rinks can also relive the experience, as Kettler offers special birthday party deals as well. Partiers have their own private room for an hour, then get a free skate rental and admission to the public skate session. Furthermore, depending on availability, “Slapshot,” the Washington Capitals’ mascot, could make a surprise appearance at a birthday party.

The complex has also served the Capitals well, housing state-of-the-art training facilities — a 20,000 sq. ft. training center with weight and fitness rooms — along with front office space for the Capitals. The building also contains athletic-training and medical facilities, locker-room and lounge areas and a video room.

“Piney Orchard was state-of-the-art when it opened, but this is a whole new level,” said Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig. “It's a beautiful facility, and with two rinks, it seems like there's always something going on here. It's a great location, too, which is nice because it brings us closer to the

The Capitals mainly claim the late morning and early afternoon hours as theirs for practice, typically skating from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. All practice sessions held at the Iceplex are open to the public and free of charge.

The Iceplex is about to play host to a three-day Spring Break mini-camp for hockey, but also features weekly hockey summer camps. From July 14 – 18, the rink will play host to the Pro Ambitions hockey camp for goalies, created by former NHL player Jeff Serowik.

Beth Lenz, general manager of the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, spoke highly of the Capitals and their decision to open the rink to the public when speaking about the different organizations benefiting from the Iceplex.

“It’s been so great for the Capitals to have done this,” Lenz said. “I mean, you can see how many different groups actually get to come here and use the ice. These kids wouldn’t have anywhere else to go if it wasn’t here.”

With ice space limited in the Capital Beltway and many burgeoning hockey players forced to turn to other sports, the amenities provided at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex range far and wide for these different organizations. Most importantly, it gives the kids a chance to do what kids do best – going out and having fun.




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