“This wonderful new facility and the entire hockey community owes a huge debt of gratitude to Norris Ingersoll,” according to Josh MacDonald, general manager of the Norway Savings Bank Arena. “There has been a steady progression from outdoors, to a roof, to a rink, and finally to the Arena. Literally, from field to dream [come true].”

Amateur and youth athletics have been part of the fabric of life for generations of kids in the Twin Cities area – football, basketball, baseball. Stephen King wrote a wonderful memoir for the “New Yorker” some 25 years ago about growing up with sandlot and Little League baseball in this community. The presence of our very own Alpine ski slope right in the middle of town has lured generations of locals out onto the snow every winter, too.

But it is ice hockey to which Lewiston-Auburn has been particularly dedicated. This community has been a major force in the spread of the popularity – and accessibility – of the sport for nearly a hundred years now.

Canadians flocking to the mills of L-A in the early days of the 20th century brought much of their own culture with them: language, church, poutine, and, of course, their national pastime.

Pond hockey in this area was as old as skates, and frozen ponds, of course, but as far as we know, the first “organized” hockey game was between teams of amateurs in 1916, sanctioned by the Association Saint-Dominque, a social club that eventually led to the formation of both St. Dom’s high school and, in 1959, the Central Maine Youth Hockey Center, now the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

As interest in and access to hockey grew throughout the 20th century, fueled by intense high school rivalries and the capacity to develop a lifelong commitment to the game, the spectator attraction of hockey grew as well. L-A has enjoyed the presence of a succession of professional and semi-pro teams over the years.

But the proliferation of players, from learners to pros, made access to good ice increasingly difficult to come by, particularly at times of day when young people could most readily participate.

Ingersoll served the city of Auburn for some three decades as a beloved director of the Parks and Recreation department. He devoted his entire career to the interests of area kids. Under his leadership, the outdoor rink adjacent to the Hasty Armory in Pettengill Park, in Auburn, was placed under roof.

Then in 1984 it was reconstructed into a fully enclosed rink, supported at the time by the city of Auburn and a coalition of civic organizations, businesses and individuals dedicated to the sport and to the interests of area youth. In 1999, the facility was re-named to honor Ingersoll, whose vision and constant advocacy had made it happen.

In recent years, intensifying competition for limited access to ice had really threatened the future of amateur hockey in the town that essentially brought the sport to Maine in the first place. The program couldn’t grow and couldn’t be adequately sustained in its present form.

The next evolution in sport and community was undertaken, culminating in the January 2014 grand opening of the Norway Savings Bank Arena, the first truly state-of-the-21st-century-art, dual-rink, dedicated hockey facility in the state of Maine, with full, permanent clubhouse/locker room facilities for six area high school teams, teams at all levels of beginner, youth, senior and adult amateur hockey, and a comfortable gametime experience for family and friends.

The new arena completes the evolution from open ponds to a venue that ensures that local hockey traditions will continue to thrive in Lewiston-Auburn and surrounding communities.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: