Hockeyville USA: Fans, community respond to news about Colosseum

Jamie Glenn/Daily Mining Gazette From left, Calumet residents Brooke Pomroy, Jaelyn Goulette and Lilly Lammi pose under the sign for the Calumet Colosseum. On Sunday, Kraft announced that the Colosseum won the Kraft Hockeyville USA contest for 2019.

CAlUMET — From squirts to the Calumet Copper Kings, and every event in between, the Calumet Colosseum is home to several of the area’s hockey events big and small. On Sunday, the Colosseum was announced as fourth Kraft Hockeyville winner. The rink will possibly host an NHL preseason game next season and and will receive $150,000 for upgrades for the rink.

The arena was built in 1913 and is oldest operating indoor rink still in use.

Copper Kings coach Dan Giachino was happy to see those near and far come together to support their home ice.

“I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen,” said Giachino. “To go against basically the entire state of Minnesota, we know how deep-rooted hockey is in Minnesota (and) basically the whole state (of Michigan), it was a hill to climb for us and it was great to see the support. (We’re) very proud and happy to win, but to see that level of support that’s out there is pretty impressive.

“In my mind, it was really nice to see not just the Calumet community, but (also) the (entire) Copper Country, pull together (with) the extended relatives that live away from here but grew up here (also throw their support in).”

“It was great to see the support on social media and people (who) got behind this kind of thing (and) got out there and vote,” he said. “It’s a lot of pride and a lot of good feelings”

Giachino is thankful for those who have helped maintain the arena. He also sees this Hockeyville win as an opportunity for more.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “They’ve done a great job over the last 10 years or so doing a lot of updates to the rink, but winning something like this allows the people who run the rink to do some nicer upgrades and to do some things that really needed to be done. It sets us up for the next (many) years of maintaining and growing what what we’ve been doing here for over 100 years.

“It makes our building better. It makes it more attractive to play in and accentuates the great history and everything that the building is. It’s just going to make it better.”

“Hockey in that building is very deeply rooted,” said Giachino. “The people that have been here for decades and will continue to be there. It’s a focal point, we’re very proud of our hockey in Calumet, we’re very proud of our Colosseum as a building and to see everybody pull together and rally around it is pretty impressive and pretty significant.”

Karena Heikkila, a native of Laurium and Detroit resident, reflected on what the state and nationwide recognition means for her hometown.

“Super excited,” said Heikkila. “I just remember doing junior ROTC up here. Down in the Detroit area, this was in the news, so it’s kind of neat to see any publicity from my hometown down there. I think this will bring (awareness) in the state and in the nation, not so much the hockey, but just the history of this town and the community.”

The rink has brought generations young and old together for many years.

“Very excited because I have a child in hockey and I had two older kids in hockey so it’s a really good thing for the Colosseum because it needs a lot of upgrades,” said

Wanda Erkkila of Calumet. “I think it’s a big pat on the back, saying that just being a small community we all banded in together and made this happen.”

“A lot of people were voting many times yesterday, including myself and all of my friends, so it was really fun (and) exciting for us,” said Heikkila. “(With) all the old pictures that they have around (the lobby), and all of the old items that they have that would be nice to keep intact.”

With this top prize will come much needed upgrades for the players and fans alike while still aiming to preserve the history of the rink.

“They’ll have a better place to skate in (with some) upgrades,” said Heikkila. “It’ll be nicer to come watch the games. I heard they’re going to upgrade the heaters, so it’ll be nicer to come and watch the games (because) we’ll be warmer.”

Calumet resident Dayra Boberg was happy to see Calumet come together in a big way and is excited to see what is in store for the community as the rink undergoes this update.

“I think our rink needed a lot of improvements and it’s going to bring our community together,” she said. “It’ll (also) be great for the hockey players, (from) the local kids (to the) whole community. It’s amazing. We’re just all over the moon excited about it.

“I think that was just the most exciting part about it is just how everyone came together. Even people that used to live here and live in other places now, everyone came together as a community and that was huge. It showed how a small town can really come together and do something big.”

“A big part will be making sure that a lot of the history stays,” Boberg said. “We’re like the oldest rink around, so I think that’s one of the most important (things), but they want to make sure it can run efficiently, so i’m sure that’s where most of it (the funding) will go.”

“It’s awesome,” said Calumet player Chase Binder. “It will make fans enjoy the game better and (be) warmer. I like scoring goals and playing hockey.”