Rink at Coal Street: A Photo Tour

By Barry Noss

Hello and welcome to the photo tour of the new Rink at Coal Street, a portion of the 13.7 million dollar revitalization of Coal Street Park. This is your all access tour of the newly opened rink. Those with engineering, design, or architecture degrees will appreciate the breadth of this completely project. We will take a look at the public view of the rink, behind the scene look at the compressors that cool the sheet of ice and a sneak peak of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins locker room and training facility which is still under construction. Throughout our tour we will have some construction photos side by side with the finished area(s) Ready? LET’S GO!

The front of the facility has a WBS Penguin, Coal Street Complex and The American Hockey League signs proudly displayed. 

Inside the front door, there is a ticket booth (top left) where you can purchase admission to the rink and on the right is the entrance to the pro shop (top right). Displayed in the ticket booth window are the half dozen or so trophies won by the Wilkes-Barre Jr. Pens on various playing levels. In the bottom picture you can see the entrance way while it was under construction.

Continuing past the ticket booth is the arcade.

The concessions area is positioned adjacent to a glass wall so spectators can enjoy their refreshments while sitting at the picnic tables and still watch the action on the ice. The concession has a griddle, fryer, multiple coolers, fountain soda and a pizza oven that serves Bonvie’s Old Forge Pizza Express. Tough guy Bonvie is arguably one of the most popular players to come out of WBS. Right now the concessions availability is limited due to the summer months but the menu will expand in late September or October. 

Next to the concessions area there are leather chairs in front of a double walled fireplace (top left). The comfort of the chairs and warmth of the fireplace gives the visitor a ski lodge feel. Behind the ski lodge and to the right of the doors to the rink is a tile table surrounded by 8 chairs (top right). Guests will have access to a large flat screen TV mounted on the wall to help pass the time while waiting for a game or practice to end. The bottom two pictures show the fireplace while under construction. In the bottom right picture, you can see more of the glass wall that allows guests to stay warm and while not missing any of the action.
We are not quite ready to enter the rink. Let’s check out the Jr. Pens locker rooms first.

There are four locker rooms (for Jr. Pens/Adult leagues) set in a square pattern, 2 in front, 2 in rear with a shower/restroom separating each set of lockers. There is a locker room specifically set aside for females to change. The final locker room is the Wilkes-Barre Penguins locker room/training facility. More on that later… Let’s take a look at the rink.

There are two pieces of equipment that keep the ice at a professional level. 

The compressor room is in a separate area from the sheet of ice. Inside of this room sit three compressors. All three are displayed in this one photo. An impressive system using state of the art part and processes, these compressors are sealed. Unlike older compressors, it does not need to be maintained ( fluids added) daily. During the cold months only one compressor is running 24/7 to keep the ice at a chilly 16.5 degrees and two run 24/7 during the warm months. That’s impressive…considering Wilkes-Barre has had many days in the high 90’s this summer. 

Now that you have seen the device that keeps the ice…well…ice. Now we can take a look at the beast that lays down a smooth sheet of ice between sessions.

This Zamboni is two months old. Brand new off the assembly line, this guy can shave the ice and lay down up to 200 gallons of water under ten minutes! 

The maximum occupancy of the rink is 635 people. There are bleachers for spectators to watch the action on the ice. Straight in from the main entrance door are two party rooms. The first thing you notice when you walk into the rink is the air temperature. With any equipment running 24/7 you will have waste heat. The waste heat is recycled back into the rink so the spectators can enjoy 55-60 degree air temperature in the warm months and 45-50 in the cold. 

The ice at the rink is near perfect, due to a couple of factors. First, is the high standards the management has for the rink. Second, the WBS Pens practice here so the ice needs to mirror Mohegan Sun Arena as much as possible.

The logo at center ice is the Wilkes-Barre Jr. Pens (Bottom). In the pictures above, you will see the boards, glass and above that is red trussing. The red trussing is left over from the old Ice-A-Rama that fell into disrepair until the city of Wilkes-Barre started renovating Coal Street Park in 1999. The trussing was stripped of its original paint and repainted. On the far side of the ice are the team benches, penalty box and time box. The concrete slab under the ice is kept at a bone chilling 16.5 degrees. The surface temperature of the ice 1.25 inches thick is between 17.5 and 18.5 degrees.

There is an unmarked door that is located behind the Jr. Pens locker rooms. When you step through, another world is unlocked. A world still under construction…

Welcome to the Wilkes-Barre Penguins locker room.

Even though it is under construction, we were granted access to peek under the covers and see what is going on behind closed doors.There has been much progress since my last visit and I will go back and post updates in the very near future. For now, please put your hard hats & steel-toed boots on and let’s enter the world of the WBS Pens locker room. OH yeah. Please excuse the mess…

The first door on the left is the medical room. Inside there are three physicians tables (top left), medical supplies (top right), two whirlpool tubs and various machines to monitor a players health (bottom left). In the rear right of the room is the office of Athletic Trainer Patrick Steidle office (bottom right).

Next door on the left is the weight room/lounge. Soon this will have exercise equipment and furniture. You can see the various signs that will be hung around the area to help inspire the players throughout the season.

Here is the locker room the players will use to put their jackets and other personal articles in. 

This is a kitchen and dining area.

Taking a detour from the player’s area to the coaching staff, we see newly anointed head coach John Hynes office. On the opposite wall there will be flat screen monitors so he can review tape. To the right is his bag.

Here we have the assistant coach (to be named at a later date) and Andy Saucier (Team Services/Video Coordinator)’s offices.

Next on our back stage tour is Equipment Manager, Teddy Richard’s, dwellings. Skate sharpening & baking equipment plus any tool needed to repair pads, helmets or gloves. There is a washer and dryer in the back room. In the bottom right you see Pittsburgh Penguins hockey shorts in a box ready for the players.

Finally, we have the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins locker room. There are 30 locker spaces on three of the walls that look onto a large entertainment center. The wood is stained a natural color. Might be a little tough to see, but I have included a picture (top left) with my seven year old son who plays for the Jr. Pens, Daniel “DJ”, to give you an idea of how large the room is.

Rink Activities:

Besides private groups like WBS Pens and the Jr. Pens there are many programs that are open to all on a weekly basis.
  • Public Skating – For $6 admission and $3 skate rental you can enjoy the ice. Check the below website for seasonal hours.
  • Don’t know how to skate or play hockey? No Problem. Come to one of the Instructional Programs at the rink. Kids and adults alike can learn how to skate and play in age appropriate groups. (Side note: You can’t get a better instructor than Hockey Director Don Tweedy to help you learn how to skate or play… just sayin’).
  •  Multiple hockey programs are available from Adult Leagues, Open hockey and Pickup Hockey
  • Not a hockey fan but love the beautiful choreography of figure skating? Coal Street has that too! There is Freestyle skating and the Diamond City Figure Skating Club.
  • You can have a birthday party, group get together or rent the ice all to yourself with private rentals.
  • Anthracite Curling Club holds events at the rink.
  • Various Clinics are held at Coal Street. Former WBS Penguins players (Dennis Bonvie, Kenny Corupe and Chris Kelleher) have held clinics so far this year. Former WBS Penguins coach and (newly promoted) Pittsburgh assistant coach, Todd Reirden will be holding a clinic August 16-20.
For hours of operation and information on programs check out http://www.coalstreeticerink.com/

While on the site, vote for what programs you would like to see in the future.

Other notes and things that may only amuse me:
  • The Rink at Coal Street is part of a $13.7 million dollar renovation project for Coal Street Park . As part of the renovation, a new playground has been put in, baseball fields have been remodeled and there are plans for a multi-purpose field where the old pool used to be. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins manage the rink, pro shop and rent many office suites in the building.
  • The Wilkes-Barre Jr. Pens are the main resident here at the rink.
  • All the lights in the facility are L.E.D. lights and are on motion detectors to help conserve energy.

Final thoughts and notes:

I would like to thank General Manager, Jason Jarecki, and Operation Manager, Chris Banks, for taking the time to answer my questions and letting me tour the facility. These two gentlemen have standards for the rink and as a direct result the overall cleanliness and ice conditions show.

Even thought the highlight of Coal Street is the WBS Penguins and the Jr. Pens, the City of Wilkes-Barre, WBS Penguins and rink mangers Jason and Chris want everyone to know this is a PUBLIC facility. As you can see from the program list above, the rink has a lot to offer.

On a personal note… the building was finished during the inaugural season of the Jr. Pens. I was able to tour the facility and stand at center ice a day before the compressors were turned on to make ice. We used the party rooms and hallways as dressing rooms for a few months while the real locker rooms were being finished and the rubber matting on the floor was laid down. There were challenges along the way, but the staff was very accommodating during this time. It was really special and fun to walk into the rink twice a week and see what section was finished.

Finally, I’d like to thank Sam Prynda for the construction photos. Please visit his website at http://www.sampryndaphotography.com.
Here are some links for some websites listed above:
Anthracite Curling Club - http://www.anthracitecurling.com
Diamond City Figure Skating Club - http://www.diamondcityfigureskatingclub.com
Wilkes-Barre Junior Pens - http://www.wbjpens.com

That concludes our tour of The Rink at Coal Street. Thanks for coming along and if you are like me I am ready for the new season to begin.


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