|4/15/2021 9:29:00 AM|
Ice Wolves helps fill hockey void
By Levi Zimmerman
In Iowa County, you won't find a school district that has a hockey program, but you can find a program that's an independent organization dedicated to the sport.
The Ice Wolves Youth Hockey association is where kids, as well as adults, can find opportunities to get out on the ice.
The club program is a not-for-profit organization that offers aspiring players to compete on teams at multiple age levels.
The Ice Wolves' home is located at the Ley Memorial Pavilion at Harris Park in Dodgeville.
President of the organization, Matt Allen, who is also the District Attorney for Iowa County, highlighted some characteristics of the Ice Wolves.
There is a team for players that are the ages of 18, 14, 12, 10 and 8 and under, and the names of those teams are Midget, Bantam, Pee-Wee, Squirt and Mite.
The 8 and under group is split into two teams with one being Red and the other White and Blue.
Allen noted that there is usually another team, but the organization wasn't able to offer it this season.
"In addition to the above teams, we also typically run a program for age 6 six or under, which is known as Learn to Play, on Saturday mornings, but we were unable to do so this year due to COVID and the extra hands-on requirements for teaching the little ones how to skate," said Allen.
Allen went on to say that he hopes that they will offer the team next season, as he mentioned the importance of grabbing the younger kids' interest.
He emphasized that the organization is always looking for newcomers and that the sense of community is refreshing.
"As a community-based organization, in addition to our structured teams, we also hold open hockey sessions for our skaters and others in the community who want to play hockey on a recreational basis, and we host weekly open skate sessions that are free to the public, charging just a nominal fee for rental skates," said Allen.
The open skate season typically operates from December to March, as this season ended on March 5.
Regarding the community aspect, he noted that the skaters come from as many as seven school districts and communities like Mount Horeb and Dubuque.
Since the Ice Wolves is a club team, they are self-funded.
Allen stated that the organization's income is derived through donation, fundraising efforts, grant writing and player fees.
He mentioned that the efforts of community members go a long way to keep the Ice Wolves going financially.
"We have no paid staff, so all of the rink setup and teardown, concessions staffing, scoreboard operating, zamboni driving, open skate staffing, etc. is done entirely by skater family volunteers."
Those efforts allow Allen to bond with his 15-year-old son, Jamison, who plays on the high school squad.
The organization and the opportunities it offers is near and dear to the Allens, as it gave Jamison his first hockey experience.
After his interest was piqued when his friends were raving about hockey, an opportunity presented itself.
"When the next opportunity came to join the Learn to Play Hockey Program at the Dodgeville Rink at Harris Park, I jumped at the chance," he said.
The love for hockey and skating has never wavered for Jamison and has led him to become a key figure on the 18 or under team, which is effectively the high school team.
The Ice Wolves are a member of the Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association, which operates under the larger USA Hockey organization.
The WAHA hosts invitational tournaments in addition to annual state tournaments.
Despite facing adversities due to COVID-19, the Ice Wolves rallied and made an appearance on the big stage.
"The team pulled together to get a couple of wins early against league teams; momentum carried us through the rest of the season to a state tournament appearance where we placed eighth."
The co-ed team was led by six Seniors: Zach Breuner, Sam Sims, Joel Ringelstetter, Britney Boxrucker, Jonathan Compton, Gabe Benish.
The Ice Wolves finished with a record of 12-9-1 and a second place finish in their league tournament.
COVID caused the setup of the rink to be delayed, which resulted in a limited number of practices before the first games.
He did say that the larger amount of players gave the team more depth to work with during the pandemic.
Similar to his father, Jamison expressed how important it is to keep the numbers up in their community.
He went on to say that he is proud of himself as well as his team.
"All in all, I am very proud of how our team worked this year; as a player, I improved a lot in many ways both on and off the ice with teammate relationships and skill development."
Jamison said that the game of hockey has had only positive impacts on his character.
He said, "It teaches so many great skills on and off the ice from friendships to leadership."
He also feels thankful for having a family that goes to great lengths to support his career on the ice.
"I am also very lucky to have dedicated parents and a sister willing to travel throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest to support me."
Jamison stated that he will be playing for two "high-level AAA" teams from Madison and McFarland during the Spring and Summer months
He hopes that his year-long dedication to hockey may end up in a collegiate career, perhaps at UW-Madison.
Although it is not a sport that is showcased by surrounding school districts, hockey continues to provide important life skills and an opportunity to build strong bonds on and off of the ice.
If you or someone you know may be interested, you are encouraged to go to www.icewolveshockey.org for more information.
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