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After a summer of renovations to the Class of 1923 Ice Rink, the Penn men’s and women’s club hockey team’s were excited to get back on the ice of their new arena.

It wasn't that simple. 

During the renovations, both the men’s and women’s equipment rooms flooded, leading to the damage of more than $2,500 worth of equipment in total for the two teams, according to players on both teams. 

This past summer, the Class of 1923 Ice Rink began a $7 million renovation that is being funded in large part by the Philadelphia Flyers Alumni and former Flyers owner Ed Sinder's youth hockey foundation. They installed new glass for the boards around the rink and a new ceiling to make the rink better insulated, as well as new temperature and humidity control systems. 

“It’s a nicer rink and we’re really happy about that,” men’s club hockey president Jesse Davis said. “It used to be freezing and foggy all the time and that’s no longer the case. It’s still an old rink but I think the improvements are great.”

“They’re trying to make the hockey programs varsities and the first step was just renovating the rink. Now, it’s more playable. There was a game last year that with the fog we almost had to cancel a game because of how dangerous it was,” women’s club hockey president Molly Zawaki said. 

Typically, when the season ends, both teams are given a closet in the rink as well as their locker room to store their equipment for the summer. Early on in the summer, the rink manager emailed both the men’s and women’s teams informing them that they needed to move things out of their locker rooms. This email came after the locker rooms became flooded due to the renovations.

“The most frustrating part is that I went down four days in a row and every day the rink manager – either I didn’t have light so I couldn’t do anything – or he didn’t tell me that the rink was locked still,” Zawaki said. 

However, the teams say they were not instructed to remove items from their respective equipment closets. The two captains also said that they were not told that the roof of the rink would be removed during the summer, which ultimately lead to flooding throughout the rink. That contradicts the statement given to The Daily Pennsylvanian by Director of Business Services Brian Manthe, who oversees the rink.

“Teams first received notice of the renovations in February 2019 when the official announcement was made to the Penn Community," Manthe wrote in an email. “When the rink closes for the season in April, teams are expected to remove their belongings from the locker rooms. This year, due to the renovations, teams received additional notices that they should make sure that all their belongings were cleared from the space due to the renovations. 

Credit: Ilana Wurman

"While most of the teams removed their equipment, some equipment remained in the locker rooms into the summer. These teams were again notified that work on the roof was starting and all items must be removed. In order to ensure that the locker rooms were emptied before the roof work began, the ice rink rented a small storage container and moved whatever still remained in the locker rooms into the container. The rink did not charge for the container rental or the moving costs." 

On the men’s team said that they were first alerted of the flooding damage after the school year ended. The only person on the team in the area at the time was Davis, who moved everything from their locker room. 

“Then, they gave us a notice saying that we needed to move everything into this big secure storage box within a week,” Davis said. “So, our coach moved our stuff into a commingled storage container, which kind of looked like a shipping container you would see on a ship. Everyone’s stuff was together [in the storage unit]. Like we use the same looking jerseys as the women’s team so it was hard to tell who's who's. And we use the same helmets as Drexel and it’s been hard to track a lot of them down.”

After this, the rink staff fixed the men’s locker room, placing any remaining equipment in the locker room into the center of the rink where the ice usually was without notifying the team. Much of the men’s equipment was taken home at the end of the season by individual players which minimized damage to their equipment.

“They told us after it had already flooded. There was a bunch of equipment we had been considering donating to Snyder hockey, but it was totally unusable because it got so moldy,” Davis said.

Credit: Ilana Wurman

In addition to this, during the construction period, the men’s team camera — which they use to broadcast their games — disappeared. According to Davis, the cost of the camera was around $1,300, and at this time it does not seem like the rink will reimburse this piece of equipment. 

“When items are reported missing at the rink, individuals are advised to report the issue to Penn’s Division of Public Safety," Manthe wrote. “To date, the rink has not received any report from the Division of Public Safety regarding this incident."

The women’s team said that the effects of the flooding were even more disastrous. Penn women’s club hockey accepts players with no prior hockey experience, so they keep extra equipment in their equipment closet to allow new players to give the sport a chance. In a typical year, there are four or five new members of the team who use the communal equipment. 

“When I went to try and clean out the locker room, I took a look at the closet. There was probably like half an inch of water on the ground, so everything in the closet had been soaked through,” Zawaki said. “It was just sitting in water and I’m not entirely sure for how long because I don’t even know when the roof got taken off and I wasn’t even notified that anything got wet.”

Zawaki moved as much equipment as she could from the flooded closet into the locker room, but the locker room equipment became damp as well.

“We never got notified in advance that any of this was going to happen and we would have moved everything out if we could have, so [the equipment] just got all moldy without our knowledge of it,” Zawaki said.

Thousands of dollars worth of hockey equipment was affected for the women’s team, and their first steps when they discovered the mold issue was to get their equipment cleaned and treated. As a result of this equipment delay, the team only began practicing in the middle of October, when typically they begin their season in September. The team even had to cancel a game against Villanova as a result of this delay.

“The sports club department ended up paying for most of [the equipment cleaning],” Zawaki said. “The rink has not reimbursed us for [the missed ice time or anything else]. The rink didn't charge us for the first two canceled ice times because of our equipment, but they didn’t do it happily. But, the whole delay in our season ended up costing us money too. Overall, we may have lost some money as a team, but the club department has been good and the rink has been reluctant to give us money.”

“In terms of paying for the damages, the rink [management] fixed the rink,” Davis said. “So, the damaged wall in our locker room was fixed, the carpet in [the locker room] was fixed, and they just tore up the moldy carpet in our storage closet. But, in terms of actual equipment, the camera will likely not be replaced and they didn’t really take a role in keeping the storage container organized.”

Penn Athletics, which oversees club sports at Penn, did not respond to a request for comment.

After this delay in their season, both teams are now back to their usual practice and game regimens while still attempting to collect reimbursement for their lost equipment and ice time.