Arizona Coyotes, Luke Air Force Base Help Bring Outdoor Hockey to the ValleyBy Tyler Drake/Cronkite News
On Thursday, April 13, members of the Arizona Coyotes joined with Luke Air Force Base for the unveiling of the new $200,000 DEK hockey rink on base in Glendale. The project was a joint effort from the Coyotes, Fighter Country Partnership and Luke Air Force Base.
DEK hockey is played outdoors and doesn’t involve ice. The surface is made up of a series of tiles. Although the hockey sticks are similar, games can be played with a ball or a puck.
Coyotes players Connor Murphy, Anthony DeAngelo, Alex Goligoski and Jordan Martinook spent the afternoon with members of the Air Force and their families.
"I had the pleasure of coming out and getting a tour before and seeing how much hard work goes in day to day and how many sacrifices people are giving for our country and safety," Murphy said. "It's pretty special to be able to come out and enjoy this with great people."
Once the ribbon-cutting ceremony was over, the Coyotes were the first to suit up. Martinook, who normally plays left wing, was quick to grab the goalie gear. Hockey sticks lined the rink for both the players and airmen.
The service members at Luke Air Force Base were the first to test out the new rink. Everyone lined up to take their shots.
It wasn't long before the airmen felt at home on the rink and showed a thing or two to the Coyotes players.
Martinook tried his best Mike Smith impression against a young fan.
He might need a lesson or two from Smith.
The lack of ice allows for airmen and their families to enjoy the game without having to skate, which is probably one of the most difficult parts of the sport, according to Murphy.
Chief Master Sergeant Randy Kwiatkowski, 56th Fighter Wing Command Chief, is very excited to have hockey at the base.
“This absolutely means the world to us,” Kwiatkowski said. “It was really a vision that started six months ago and you bring in a bunch of different organizations together, meaning the Arizona Coyotes, Fighter Country Partnership, Luke Air Force Base and all these phenomenal minds got together and transformed this vision into reality.”
The Coyotes are hoping DEK hockey can get more people interested in coming out to the rink.
“The whole goal for us is to grow the sport and get kids thinking about and playing the sport we all love,” Coyotes vice president of marketing Josh Margulies said.
The Coyotes are looking at building more rinks all over Arizona to give kids and adults a chance to at least play the sport, according to Margulies.
"We’re talking to pretty much every area in Arizona and our goal is to have 10 of these rinks done in the next couple years and 30 in the state of Arizona before too long,” Margulies said.