Hockey's footprint in North Texas has been growing since Mike Modano and the Dallas Stars came to town- But sometimes it takes a painful step back.
On Sunday Denton's "Lonestar Rink" shut its doors for the last time after the owner of the property sold the space to a manufacturing company. The facility opened in December of 2010, serving the community for nearly five years before its untimely demise.
Its closure leaves the Southwest Collegiate Hockey League without a key venue, and the University of North Texas' inline squad without a place to practice.
It leaves the local community without any recreational skating outlet- Home to birthday parties, lacrosse practices and a variety of other niche events.
Most of all, it leaves a network of nearly 300 local players with no house-leagues on Sundays and Tuesdays- Once a bastion of camaraderie and hockey-family for years that came to an unceremonious and uncertain close this weekend.
(And on a personal note, it leaves my two-year-old hockey career ended on February 15th with a torn ACL and a rehab program with suddenly where to go. This was my rink. My own personal "happiest-place-on-earth.")
The Denton Record-Chronicle published a nice piece on the operation's (hopefully temporary) demise on Sunday, even as the last league games were wrapping up, interviewing owner Jill Marsh:
Marsh said her family and many others who ritually skate at the facility are not ready for Lone Star to close for good at 6 p.m. today. The owner of the property, a 20,000-square-foot warehouse on Shady Oaks Drive, sold the building to a manufacturing company, and Marsh is moving everything into storage by the end of the month.
"I guess I'm still just trying to wrap my brain around the fact that in a few days, this place won't be here," Marsh said last week.
Marsh has been looking for a place to relocate the facility because Lone Star is the only indoor skating rink in Denton. It's a haven for many roller hockey players, roller derby enthusiasts, inline skaters and kids who want to skate after school.
"Honestly, not to sound like a cliche, but it's like a big family up here," Marsh said. "You've got your hockey players that are like one type of family, and you've got your public skate people that come here so often you start learning them by name." [Denton Record-Chronicle]
Inline hockey is an oft-overlooked segment of the sport. It is cheaper. It is generally safer (says the guy who dislocated a shoulder and tore his ACL in two years at this rink...) with rules that limit hitting. It is something for which Denton has had a soft spot for some time.
The community faced a similar situation when "Faceoff Hockey Center" on Mayhill road in Denton closed in the summer of 2010. Uncertainty, as today, followed, but Tim and Melinda Mangrum opened Lonestar just months later, primarily of hockey-born passion.
The Marsh family now attempts to follow in their foot-steps, but the plan now is to put the rink in storage while the search for a tenable option continues. It's a labor of love for them more than anything else, and the price must be right if they're to pick up where they left off.
Help from the DFW hockey community would be most welcome, and anyone interested in offering suggestions, financial aid or any other manner of resources as the search for commercial real-estate continues should contact Lonestarhockey@gmail.com .