WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. — Following news of an rink closure in Whitehall Township, local hockey organizations are speaking out about how the decision will directly affect their teams.
The Township of Whitehall will say goodbye to the Lehigh Valley Ice Rink which has been part of the community for nearly 30 years. General manager Joe Pennisi must now determine where everyone will go.
“There will be teams that will be recovered, there will be children that will find homes, which is incredible, but there will be teams that will be on a lifeline,” Pennisi said.
The head coach of a special needs hockey team says the new owners’ decision to close the rink will make it harder to maintain a weekly schedule with his players at another facility.
“The staff and the Lehigh Valley Ice Rink in Whitehall have welcomed us with this Sunday afternoon slot, so one of our biggest concerns is certainly not just if we can get ice, but can we get it in a way that it serves the 31 families we have,” said Special Hockey of the Lehigh Valley President Joe Guellnitz.
The President of Parkland Ice Hockey Club said in a statement:
“The Lehigh Valley Rink was the primary facility used by the Lehigh Valley School Hockey League and without it it will be difficult to find available slots to continue this league.”
And regarding what will happen to the location after the closure, Pennisi says he hasn’t been told of any plans at this point.
“There are only a limited number of sheets, there is a lot of grass for people to play with, there are a lot of basketball courts for people to play with, there are not many rinks,” Pennisi said.
We contacted the new owners but they did not return our requests for comment.