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In Randolph, the Ice Is Nice and Skating Is Fun for Everyone

  • A game of pickup family hockey is played at the Randolph rink on Tuesday. A light rain falling on the ice made it a little sticky. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    A game of pickup family hockey is played at the Randolph rink on Tuesday. A light rain falling on the ice made it a little sticky. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Alex Starzec, 15, left, and his brother Matthew,14,  both of Brookfield, Vt., lace their skates at the Randolph skating rink. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Alex Starzec, 15, left, and his brother Matthew,14, both of Brookfield, Vt., lace their skates at the Randolph skating rink. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Before skaters arrive for the day, Mackenzie Poirier, 17, of Randolph, looks over his physics homework. Poirier works at the rink. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Before skaters arrive for the day, Mackenzie Poirier, 17, of Randolph, looks over his physics homework. Poirier works at the rink. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sarah Garvin,10, of Braintree, Vt., practices by skating around milk crates. She has been playing hockey for a couple of years now. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Sarah Garvin,10, of Braintree, Vt., practices by skating around milk crates. She has been playing hockey for a couple of years now. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lights illuminate the rink as daylight fades and skaters get ready for a pickup hockey game. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Lights illuminate the rink as daylight fades and skaters get ready for a pickup hockey game. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sarah Garvin,10, pulls at the strap on her helmet after taking a quick break with her father and coach Eric Garvin. They live in Braintree. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Sarah Garvin,10, pulls at the strap on her helmet after taking a quick break with her father and coach Eric Garvin. They live in Braintree. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tom Morgan, of Randolph, uses a resurficer to make fresh smooth ice for the rink before they open for the day. (<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Tom Morgan, of Randolph, uses a resurficer to make fresh smooth ice for the rink before they open for the day. (
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Andrew Starzec watches and helps his sons get used to their skates; from left are Matthew,14, Sam, 9, and Nicolas,11. (<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Andrew Starzec watches and helps his sons get used to their skates; from left are Matthew,14, Sam, 9, and Nicolas,11. (
    Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • A game of pickup family hockey is played at the Randolph rink on Tuesday. A light rain falling on the ice made it a little sticky. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
  • Alex Starzec, 15, left, and his brother Matthew,14,  both of Brookfield, Vt., lace their skates at the Randolph skating rink. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
  • Before skaters arrive for the day, Mackenzie Poirier, 17, of Randolph, looks over his physics homework. Poirier works at the rink. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
  • Sarah Garvin,10, of Braintree, Vt., practices by skating around milk crates. She has been playing hockey for a couple of years now. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
  • Lights illuminate the rink as daylight fades and skaters get ready for a pickup hockey game. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
  • Sarah Garvin,10, pulls at the strap on her helmet after taking a quick break with her father and coach Eric Garvin. They live in Braintree. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
  • Tom Morgan, of Randolph, uses a resurficer to make fresh smooth ice for the rink before they open for the day. (<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
  • Andrew Starzec watches and helps his sons get used to their skates; from left are Matthew,14, Sam, 9, and Nicolas,11. (<br/>Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

Randolph — Greasy roads and low visibility may have deterred some skaters last Monday, but ice is ice, and even at the snowstorm’s peak the Randolph rink wasn’t empty.

The McGovern family, season passholders, were the first to hit the ice. Tom Morgan, the rink’s ice-maker, had been blowing snow from the surface all afternoon, but when the West Brookfield, Vt., residents arrived, more had piled up, so they shoveled off a patch.

Falling snow sparkled under the lights, and for a while, Krystal, Andy and their three boys had the place to themselves.

Their youngest son, 2-year-old Liam, was on ice before he could walk, Krystal said. “I put skates on him at 1 and pushed him around on a (milk) crate.”

As a child, McGovern had skated on a pond, “but it was nothing like this,” she said.

The Boys and Girls Club of the White River Valley run the rink, which is owned by the town. The large wooden warming hut offers skate sharpening, rentals and snacks.

Most of the staff are students, and they “are very good at watching and taking care of the littler kids that show up,” Morgan said. “They are also good at getting people the right-sized skates and making hot chocolate.”

The rink schedule includes daily open skating and various levels of pickup hockey, and in the summer, the site functions as a park for skateboarders. The ice usually opens around Christmas and closes sometime in March, said Tim Rollings, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club.

“It’s very weather dependent,” he said. “We hope that it is cold, but not too cold.”

Rain and warm temperatures forced the rink to close on Thursday and part of Wednesday, but Rollings was hopeful that it would reopen by Friday.

This season has been fairly busy, Morgan said Monday, and even the recent cold snap didn’t keep skaters away. “The hardiest of all are the hockey players. I think there were 30-odd kids out there yesterday afternoon.”

Dempsey, the McGoverns’ oldest boy, has grown to love the sport, and he and his father often join in pickup games. Last weekend, the 6-year-old scored a goal.

“There was no defense, of course,” Krystal said, but that didn’t matter. “He thought it was the best.”

The players, who ranged in age from 5 to adults, “were moving pretty fast,” but they slowed down when a child got the puck, she said. “Everyone would be cheering for the little kids.”

When it was time for the beginner pickup game Monday afternoon, Andy McGovern helped drag the goals onto the ice. There, he and his son were joined by three other little boys.

“It’s hockey time!” Dempsey shouted.

Krystal and Liam stepped inside to warm up, but Matthew, 4, opted to stand outside and watch, his eyes never leaving the rink. Michael Jackson tunes played over the speakers as the skaters zig-zagged between the two goals. Nearby, Morgan pushed a snowblower attached to a tractor, clearing snow that piled up even as he worked.

Morgan, 61, calls himself semi-retired. But he works part-time at Vermont Interactive Television and has been at the rink for 14 years. He had planned to let someone else take over this year.

“I’m getting up to the age where I like to sit around and watch,” he said, but in the end, he stuck with it. “I have an affinity to ice, I guess. And I’m not sure who (else) would do it.”

His job centers around making ice and keeping it in good shape for skaters. Their small Zamboni is in need of repairs, so lately he’s relied on the ice resurfacer. The long-handled tool, which resembles a gigantic windshield squeegee, connects to a fire hydrant. Holes in the metal allow water to spray out onto the ice.

When it comes to tearing up the surface, hockey players are “brutal,” Morgan said. “Some of them are like jet propellers.”

And that’s just fine with him.

“When I see marks like that, I figure someone’s having a good time,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Aimee Caruso can be reached at acaruso@vnews.com or 603-727-3210.