The reopening of the new ice rink at the Lancerlot in Vinton appears to be on track says Chris Arnold, general manager for Virginia Tech’s club hockey team that will make the cozy rink home (projected to hold about 1200 sitting or standing) when it opens by September.
The Hokies will have their own locker room facilities in school colors – truly a home of their own after playing for many years at the much larger Berglundc Center, often at the mercy of bookings for concerts, monster truck shows, etc.
“We’re hoping to be in the Lancerlot right after Labor Day for our tryouts and to start practicing,” says Arnold, who worked for the Roanoke Express at one time. The season starts on September 21 against Richmond.
Among the highlights this season are two home dates vs. UVA and a game against Liberty’s D2 level club team – same as Virginia Tech’s club team, which is not NCAA-sanctioned and offers no scholarships. The head coach is Joey Mullen, who had two uncles (Joe and Brian) that were standouts in the National Hockey League for many years.
It’s rare for the Hokies to be at home for a season opener due to those scheduling issues, so Arnold says the team looks forward to that. A consortium of 10 owners – including the Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs – are footing the bill for the new ice rink, which the Dawgs will use as a second practice facility when there’s no ice at the Berglund Center. They could also schedule playoff games there as well next spring. Local recreation leagues and Radford University’s club team will also call the Lancerlot home.
For Virginia Tech it means no more odd hour skates at Berglund or having to trek from Blacksburg to Liberty’s rink in Lynchburg for a practice skate. “It’s huge for our team. This valley needs year-round ice.” Arnold notes that at Liberty’s LaHaye Ice Center “the fans are right on top of you. That’s a good intimidating environment and that’s what we want to have [here].”
There will be 14 homes games at the Lancerlot, two games each month from September-December and then more in January and February. The Hokies were 16-9 last season after going just 7-21 the season prior. “We’ve got some really good kids coming in,” promises Arnold.
See the VirginiaTechIceHockey.com website for more details on the upcoming season at the Lancerlot in Vinton – at one time a home to a Roanoke minor league team until the roof literally caved in three decades ago.