The girls’ combined team joins the Leavitt boys, Edward Little, St. Dom’s boys team and girls club, and the Gray-New Gloucester-Poland teams who have established permanent, dedicated bases of operations at the Norway Savings Bank Arena, along with the local and travel teams of the combined youth hockey league of Lewiston and Auburn, senior and adult hockey, and open public skating opportunities.

The combination of youth and high school hockey programs in L-A is second only to Casco Bay as the most robust in Maine, and coaches and families at all levels agree that, until now, there simply wasn’t enough ice in the community to accommodate everyone who needed it.

Lack of sufficient infrastructure was among the reasons that drove the merger of separate Lewiston and Auburn youth programs two years ago.

“Of course there’s still a lot of competition for prime ice time,” said Twin City Titans youth hockey president, Denis Berube. “But because of growing demand on the [Androscoggin Bank] Colisee, both from junior and other levels of professional hockey including for-profit youth teams, and from non ice-related activities, our kids had been getting pre-empted more often than ever before.”

And Auburn’s Ingersoll arena did not have modern amenities, support space and systems to sustain so many teams.

“There was a concert at the Colisee not long ago,” Berube explained, “and between the time they started to disassemble the boards, cover the ice, set up and tear down the concert stage, we had [essentially] lost a whole weekend.”

There is a deep hockey tradition in the Twin Cities, and the response from the community was to both redress the immediate needs and at the same time, to provide for the future.

The vision to establish Maine’s first fully equipped dual-sheet arena was supported by the city of Auburn with the understanding that the facility would cover its own costs from the outset, and a number of commercial sponsors – whose logos and names adorn the ice and boards at the new arena – joined Norway Savings Bank, namesake of the arena, in expressing strong support for the concept.

Dunkin’ Donuts came forward to sponsor introductory teams for the youngest competitors just learning the game, to help grow the program by ensuring that kids would demonstrate a genuine love of the game before their parents were asked to commit the time and resources the youth sport demands.

The result is the finest youth hockey facility in the state, the only dual-sheet arena and the only one able to accommodate a full schedule of youth and high school competition, senior and adult skaters, and weekend-long tournaments that will include teams from all around Maine and throughout New England.

Bleachers in the indoor rink section will seat 810 fans, with another 200 standing. One-hundred-seventy-eight folks can sit at the second rink, with 400 standing. The spacious and heated glass-enclosed mezzanine can accommodate 250 people and overlooks both rinks.

There is a conference room with unobstructed views of the ice that will seat another 75, and the concession concourse can fit 150 people. For concerts or other non-ice-related events, an additional 300 people can be seated on the surface within the constraints of the arena’s occupancy permit, but if PortaPotties are added to the parking lot, total capacity would be a whopping 4,800 people.

The whole facility is pre-wired for HD television production. All that is needed in order to go live is a Time Warner control room truck to plug into the building. There is Wi-Fi throughout the building, as well as concert-quality sound systems.

There has never been a twin-sheet facility anywhere in Maine that even resembles the Norway Savings Bank Arena, and in fact the closest is actually the model on which this building is based, the Haverill Valley Forum twin-sheet rink that helped transform that Massachusetts town into a major youth hockey destination seven years ago.

But ultimately, it’s all about the ice. And not just twice as much as at any other rink in Maine; it’s also about quality and consistency of ice, summer skating, precision maintenance, and the comfort and performance of players.

Ice temperatures are maintained and adjusted by a vast glycol-fueled system of chillers, digitally controlled.

“I can operate all the systems in this building from my smartphone,” Josh MacDonald explained, “wherever I am, any time of day or night. We can always maintain ideal ice conditions.”

The surfaces are kept perfectly groomed by a state-of-the-art Olympia Ice Machine that is laser guided to achieve tolerances that weren’t even possible with traditional Zamboni technology.

“The consensus,” said MacDonald, “from players, coaches and fans is that the total hockey experience here at the Norway Savings Bank Arena – from locker rooms, concession and gaming area, grandstands, parking lots, access to the facility, and especially the quality of the ice really is way superior to any other venue in the state.”

While the Arena is all about hockey, it doesn’t always have to be.

“Without ice on the second sheet and with the first sheet covered, total audience capacity increases to nearly 5,000 people,” MacDonald explained, “so we can host all sorts of events: concerts, trade shows, performances that could never have happened in Auburn. There’s always been a need for additional exposition space in town, and we’re happy to provide some. But not at the expense of hockey!”

Because this is where hockey happens first.


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