Nick Matluck of Freeport pulls curling stones out of storage at the William B. Troubh Ice Arena in Portland recently. Each stone weighs 42 pounds. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover)

Remember when you and the gang used to play pickup hockey on that frozen pond out in the middle of nowhere?

The puck would take crazy hops as it slammed into frozen knots of ice. An elegant pass would go completely off course when the puck slipped into weird grooves, dips or bumps. Pond hockey was an outright blast, no doubt, but was it really hockey as the sport was meant to be played?

Curling on ice meant for other sports is kind of the same way.

“With all the dips and dives on this ice, we still can play games,” says Dianne Ballon, a curler with the Pine Tree Curling Club, which currently plays at the William B. Troubh Ice Arena in Portland. “But certainly curling on arena ice is much different than curling on club ice.”

Ballon knows this for certain because she used to curl at the Belfast Curling Club, the only dedicated curling center in Maine.

At an arena like Troubh, ice tends to be shared by a number of groups: hockey leagues, figure skaters and skating clinics among them. The ice tends to get beat up by the sheer number of blades that cut across its surface.


In professional curling, meanwhile, ice is only used by curlers and it is treated with more love and care. The ice is scraped down and then “pebbled,” which involves freezing small droplets of water across the playing surface. The pebbles melt a bit when the curling stones pass across them, resulting in a layer of water over which the stone can glide.

The Pine Tree Curling club members say they have been happy to have ice time at the Troubh Arena since they founded in 2015. But with 50 members and interest growing all the time, they’ve definitely outgrown the arena.

Now club members are hoping to expand into a building of their own, a 17,000- to 20,000-square-foot space that will have sheets of ice dedicated to the sport of curling.

Not to mention, they won’t have to meet at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, when the Troubh ice is currently available to them.

“Those are the toughest issues we have facing us right now,” says club member Dave Florig. “The ice conditions and the time we have to play.”

“We’re curling from 9:10 to 11:40 tonight and that’s not by choice,” says club founder and President Derek Campbell. “It’s just because that’s when it’s available.”


Club members are discussing plans to raise funds to either build a new facility or to find an existing building to buy or lease. They’re eager to make a move in large part because interest in curling keeps growing, members say. Members would like to have their own space so they can more easily introduce the sport to different groups – kids, seniors and wheelchair leagues among them.

“We can only get so big here,” Campbell says.

The hope for the club, Campbell says, is to have a new facility built and running before 2022, when the Olympics will cause a resurgence of interest in curling, as it has every four years since curling was brought in as an Olympic sport in 1998.

For more information about the club, visit

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