Eddie Powers went to the BGSU Ice Arena for the first time as a 3-year-old to watch his older brother’s youth hockey game.
Almost 50 years later, those visits to the arena are still part of the Bowling Green resident’s daily routine.
Powers started his youth hockey career the next year, and he later played for Bobcat high school and Falcon hockey teams. The 52-year-old currently is in his first season as the head coach of the Bobcats after serving as an assistant for 26 years.
And while Powers was coaching the Bobcats, his family grew up in the arena where they were involved in youth hockey, high school hockey and figure skating.
The BGSU Ice Arena, renamed the Slater Family Ice Arena in December, celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend. Among the events is the Falcon hockey game Saturday night at 5:07 against Mercyhurst in a non-league game.
The arena opened Feb. 25, 1967, and the first varsity hockey games were played Nov. 14-15, 1969 against the University of Windsor and Western Ontario University.
Powers’ parents, Richard and Ellie, were active at the arena. Richard was a long-time minor official at Falcon games. Both were involved in the local ice show for many years, with Richard building props and Ellie making the costumes for the shows.
“The arena basically is where I and a lot of people grew up,” said Powers, whose family consists of wife, Joy, and three sons and one daughter.
Powers was a goalie on the Falcons’ 1984 NCAA championship team. He also won a state high school hockey championship with the Bobcats in 1980.
“It’s one of the few buildings in town that is a community area and a community gathering place. It’s impacted so many people in town, kids who played there or families went to watch their kids there. It’s molded this town into what we really are which is a hockey town.”
Among those returning this weekend are other members of the Falcons’ NCAA championship team; former Falcon Olympians Ken Morrow and Mark Wells, who were members of the 1980 gold-medal winning United States team; Hobey Baker Award winners Brian Holzinger and George McPhee; and former stars Rob Blake, Mike Liut and Dave Ellett. Ellett was a member of the NCAA championship team.
Jack Vivian, the first coach in BG history, also will be in the arena this weekend.
Also returning is U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame announcer Mike Emrick, who will call the play-by-play for the second-period of the BG-Mercyhurst game. Falcon radio voice Evan Pivnick will call the first and third periods, and the two will do color commentary for each other. Emrick received his doctorate from BGSU in 1976.
“It’s going to be great seeing everyone again,” Powers said. “Some guys can really remember the games, but just being in the locker room and talking with guys, that’s the kind of stuff everyone misses.
“The camaraderie in the locker room, the constant egging on in the locker room and just having a great time and building relationships — those are the things you really remember as much as the games and the bond you create for a lifetime.”
The celebration includes a Bobcat hockey game against Findlay Friday at 7 p.m. and a figure skating exhibition Sunday at 1:30 p.m.. The exhibition includes BG native and former U.S. women’s champion Alissa Czisny.
“It’s hard to fathom the 50 years and the impact this building has had just on the number of people within our program,” said Falcon coach Chris Bergeron, who is in his seventh season. “But then you start to think about outside of our program, it’s pretty overwhelming.”
All Falcon hockey alums have been offered one free ticket to the Mercyhurst game.
In addition to the Falcon and Bobcat hockey programs and the BG Youth Hockey Association, the arena also has been home to the BG Figure Skating Club and is the former home of the BG Curling Club.
“It’s a nice celebration of BG and what BG’s ice arena has meant to a lot of people,” Bergeron said. “And then the opportunity we can get (former Falcon hockey) players on campus is a very positive thing for us.”
The arena also has become a second home for the Bergeron family. His two sons have played youth hockey in the building.
“We’ve been here seven years, and the arena has meant a lot to our family,” Bergeron said. “To think about the people who have been here a lot more than seven years, I can only imagine the impact this building has had on their families. It’s a great celebration.”