Citing the need to increase safety for hockey fans, Colorado College athletic director Julie Soriero will have protective nets installed at World Arena. The white, nylon mesh nets, which are scheduled to be installed before next season, will extend 30 feet above the glass and stretch past the goal line on each end. Fans sitting in the lower-bowl ends and corners and the upper-bowl ends of World Arena will have netting in their sightlines. All four student sections will be affected. Soriero called the nets a “shared partnership” between CC and World Arena. She declined to specify the cost. World Arena general manager Dot Lischick said it’s a “fairly sizable purchase.” The nets will be produced by Minnesota-based Becker Arena Products Inc., which supplied dasher boards for Air Force’s Cadet Ice Arena and Honnen Ice Arena, CC’s campus practice rink. Jeff Horstman, a sales consultant for Becker Arena, said his company typically charges $90,000 to $100,000 to install nets at rinks. The San Jose Sharks paid between $100,000 and $150,000 for nets before the 2002-03 season, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The NHL mandated all 30 teams install nets after a 13-year-old girl died when struck in the head by a deflected puck at a Columbus Blue Jackets game in March 2002. The NCAA does not require teams to have nets, although eight Western Collegiate Hockey Association schools had them last season. Nets might be installed before next season at Minnesota’s Mariucci Arena, the only other WCHA site that did not have nets, said Kevin Kurtt, Minnesota assistant director of athletic communications. “There’s the potential for injury, and we have the responsibility to minimize it,” Soriero said. “We’re being naive if we don’t think these players shoot the puck with the same velocity as some of the players in the NHL.” Soriero said several fans at World Arena have been injured by pucks the past couple of seasons. A CC student was hospitalized after being struck behind the ear during a Jan. 14 game against Wisconsin. CC assistant athletic director Scott Lowenberg said he will attempt to relocate seasonticket holders bothered by the netting to the upper-bowl sides. Only scattered single tickets remain in the lower bowl. Fans had mixed reactions. Bud Winger, who has season tickets in Section 112 behind the goal, calls the nets a “bad idea” because his son, Jacob, can no longer snag pucks. CC fan Chris Stengle agreed. “If you come to a hockey game, you should be paying attention,” said Stengle, who has caught six practice pucks and one game puck the past two seasons. “If you get hit by a puck, you’re not watching the game.” CC employee Don Kiick, who usually sits in the lowerbowl ends at World Arena, supports the installation of the nets because they’ll protect children. “You see all these little kids,” Kiick said. “People have them in their laps, and they’re not watching. They’re playing around, they’re not paying attention, they’re eating ice cream.” Said season-ticket holder Steven Benecke: “If somebody were to be seriously harmed, it’s going to cost you more than $100,000. And there’s the negative publicity and the emotional issues that go along with it.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0256 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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