POTSDAM — The Clarkson University women’s hockey team’s 5-1 win over Syracuse on Saturday showed that Cheel Arena is ready for business this season despite undergoing offseason renovations.
St. Lawrence University, which is also undergoing renovations to its arena, won’t be ready for home games at Appleton Arena when the home portion of the season begins.
The Saints were scheduled to host a nonconference men’s hockey game with Clarkson on Nov. 1 and then face the Golden Knights in another nonconference game at Cheel Arena the following night. Several Clarkson employees confirmed Saturday that the Nov. 1 game with the Saints has been moved to Cheel Arena, which will still also host the game the following night.
Syracuse women’s hockey coach Paul Flanagan said his team’s road game at SLU on Nov. 15 will take place at SUNY Canton’s rink. It is believed that Appleton Arena will not be ready for games until approximately Thanksgiving weekend. SLU was expected to make an announcement about the status of Appleton this week. It is expected that SLU’s men will play some home games at SUNY Canton as well. St. Lawrence is scheduled to host its first games on Oct. 18 and 19 against Providence and Vermont.
“We are going to play all of our games here, so we are excited,” said Clarkson athletic director Scott Smalling, who previously was Cheel’s rink director. “If St. Lawrence needed us to be able to help them to play, we’d make it work. Would we try to accommodate them, even under these conditions? The answer would be, ‘Yes.’”
The Saints started work on Appleton Arena shortly after last season ended and for most of the summer the walls in front of the building and on the side along Canton’s Miner Street, have been open at the top. Construction has taken place on the side of the building by Miner Street and new lights have been put into the rink.
Currently the front of the rink is still exposed with skeleton beams in place and the ice has not been installed inside the building yet. Both the men’s and women’s teams have been practicing at SUNY Canton. SUNY Canton’s facility holds 907 fans, which would be no problem for SLU women’s crowds but would be smaller than a typical Saints men’s home game.
Last week SLU notified season-ticket holders that they will not receive tickets for this season, but instead will get a credential that gives them access to the arena. Season-ticket holders are expected to receive reserved seats, according to St. Lawrence.
Over the summer Clarkson tore out the boards and the floor of Cheel Arena and put in new concrete, new walls and also new glass, which is really a hard plastic that has more give and is harder to break. The height of the glass was increased from five feet to eight feet as well, and glass was placed in front of the penalty boxes.
The work is ongoing at Cheel Arena but does not affect play as Clarkson is still completing work on new locker rooms for both teams as well as new team meeting rooms, video rooms and a weight room exclusively for the hockey players. The men’s team is expected to be able to move into its locker room sooner than the women’s team and both use existing visiting locker rooms during practices.