Right after the Prince Albert Raiders skated off the ice Saturday following a 7-3 win over the Calgary Hitmen, work began to do a complete makeover to the Art Hauser Centre.
Work crews took to the playing surface and started to remove all of the glass around the stands, as the venue switches over from being the home to hockey teams to being one of the host venues for the 2019 New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships, which gets underway Saturday morning.
Leading the way for turning the rink into a five-sheet curling facility are veteran icemakers Jayson Braaten and Darren Gress, who came to town Sunday morning.
“Once we arrived here, we got some help from the rink crew here as we got a level on the ice surface and then we brought the Zamboni out to take out as many hills that we can to have a level playing surface for the curlers,” Braaten said.
“We did a flood on Sunday night and then we painted the surface white on Monday, in addition to adding all of the colours for the rings and everything else. Now we’re just doing a number of floods now for each of the levels that go with the ice.”
Although the Art Hauser Centre is almost 50 years of age, Braaten believes that won’t play any issues when it comes to hosting a major event like the Canadian Juniors.
“All rinks have their quirks, but they have a great dehumidifier system here and everything looks great in here,” Braaten said. “We’re hoping it doesn’t get 40 below zero outside, but we’ll see what happens.
“Obviously the weather plays a big role, but it’s just a matter of keeping the building warm. I’m sure everything will be fine there and everyone will be comfortable in the building during the week.”
Although there isn’t as much of a change taking place at the Prince Albert Golf & Curling Club, they finished up their regular club play Tuesday to get their sheets ready for the tournament this weekend.
“They have a couple of dandy icemakers there to look after everything as we speak,” Braaten said.
“John Toner (who is the co-director of facilities for the host committee) has done a great job of getting volunteers here to help us out in getting everything ready.”