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New ice rink coming to Rosemount

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Trent Eigner's 9-year-old son Brandon thinks his dad can build anything. So when ice time for hockey became an issue he told his dad to build an indoor ice rink.

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"I built our house, so in the mind of a 9-year-old I can build anything," said Eigner, a Rosemount High School graduate. Eigner played college hockey at Miami University, Ohio. He then went on to play professional hockey in the Western Professional Hockey League, along with other leagues.

Retired now, Eigner has devoted his time to being a hockey parent and has experienced first hand how frustrating getting ice time can be. He said often families travel 20 or 30 miles just to practice.

"I am the perfect example of what most families are facing," he said.

However silly, the notion of building an ice rink stuck with Eigner and eventually he started looking into what it would take.

Partnering with some old hockey buddies -- some local some not -- Eigner decided it was possible. Tom Preissing, a Rosemount High School graduate who now plays for the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, and Tim Conboy, who plays for the Carolina Hurricanes, have both committed to the project.

"I'd love to be able to do it myself but it's just not possible," said Eigner of the nearly $1 million project.

After coming up with the partners Eigner had to come up with a plan. The decided to re-use the empty Knowlan's Super Market Building off of Highway 42.

The plan is to build a three-quarters rink sheet of ice. A pro-shop, complete with skate sharpening will complement the rink. In addition, a bar and restaurant, called Mel's Cafe, will offer a variety of foods and drinks.

Eigner said the arena and training center will be called The Pond.

"Although it's indoors I think it will be neat for kids to say they're playing at The Pond," said Eigner.

Similar rinks have been built in metro communities including Lakeville. Eigner said so far they seem to be doing well.

While hockey arenas aren't usually big money makers, with the desperate need for ice in the area and the inclusion of a restaurant Eigner hopes the endeavor will make a profit. He added that eventually the arena may expand to include things like an arcade.

"(Rosemount) is a great community to do something like this in," said Eigner. "The need exists for ice time for kids and it could become another community destination."

Eigner said the smaller rink will be great for younger hockey players. He said for most youth sports younger athletes get play on smaller facilities but not with hockey. He said smaller children will benefit from the smaller rink because they will get to touch the puck more.

Rosemount Area Hockey Association president Troy Crowell said The Pond will be a great thing for the community, especially for hockey families. More than 450 boys and girls from kindergarten age to seniors in high school participate in RAHA programs.

"For us it's a great thing. We've struggled with ice time for a long time and had to go out of town to get it," said Crowell.

Another sheet of ice, Crowell said, will let kids get on the ice more. He said the addition could increase the number of kids that RAHA serves.

"We see the mini rink as an advantage," said Crowell.

While hockey and kids will remain the focus Eigner said they will work with the city to meet the community's needs.

Right now the Knowlan's building still looks like a hollow shell. Crews have started demolition and actual construction of the rink should begin early this summer. Eigner said the construction of a rink is complicated and will take some time so he anticipates The Pond will open Sept. 1.

"Hockey is a huge passion of mine and I am tremendously excited to do this," said Eigner.

For more information on The Pond visit www.minn-e-rink.com or call 612-919-0908.

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