The name Haviland is synonymous with hockey in Middletown with a lineage that dates back to the early 1970s, when George Haviland Sr. founded the city’s first roller league in a corner of the train station, which has evolved into the MYAA-supported organization we now know it to be.
His initial actions eventually sparked an expansion in the municipality and Middletown saw the construction of more outdoor rinks at McMahon Park, Normandy Park and Kunkel Field.
Though Haviland’s sons, Mike and George Jr., had there own successes that continue to fortify the family’s legacy in Middletown, including the former’s 2009-10 Stanley Cup Championship as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks, it’s the inaugural season which acted as the foundation of the township’s hockey community … a basis George Haviland Jr. will build upon today.
This morning, Haviland Jr. will open the doors to Middletown Ice World, a state-of-the-art, 1,700 seat, ice hockey arena located on the grounds of the Middletown Swim Club.
“When this property came along it was just too good to turn away from it,” he explained. “It was too good of an opportunity, and something I’ve always wanted to do in Middletown.”
“The Middletown hockey community is a great one, with a lot of talented kids,” continued Haviland, who coaches and directs the Eastern Hockey League’s (EHL) New Jersey Junior Titans program, “and people have been trying to provide that community with a facility like this for a long time and haven’t been able to do it. So, we’re doing the Junior Titans program a good justice, but we’re doing this community a better justice.”
With the facility’s grand entrance into the Middletown hockey realm comes a mounting groundswell of support, and what’s more, excitement, as the local high school programs feverishly anticipate a venue they can call home for the first time in their histories.
“From the schools’ standpoint, this arena will definitely create more of a home ice atmosphere for both programs,” explained Middletown North coach Matt Clemente. “It’s a lot to ask for kids to travel 20 miles to Wall to support us. Now it’s a five minute drive, or walk or bike ride. To have a facility like this as a home, it should help keep some of the local talent in their public school system, while introducing ice hockey to kids at a younger age, which will only help them prepare for when they get to the varsity level.”
“Its really going to help our programs,” said Middletown South coach Stan Gutt, “because with all of the on-ice activity that kids in town will be experiencing at a young age, it’ll act as a feeder program, much like the roller hockey programs in town have been. It’s always been a progression in Middletown to get to ice hockey. Now the kids can develop on the ice. The convenience of the rink will only help to push kids at a younger age to get involved. Our crowds should increase, support should increase and our numbers will grow as these young kids who come see our teams play become inspired by our players. We have an opportunity to be mentors to the future of our programs.”
Haviland also noted the arena will play host to the Junior Titans A Team’s slate of home games later this year.
The 54,000 square-foot, two-story, energy efficient rink, which comes complete with a solar paneled roof, will include a regulation size sheet of ice, as well as a dual-level restaurant and snack bar with a mezzanine area, sky boxes and club seating, a pro shop, six locker rooms, as well as dance team and ballet training areas, a fully operational gym with workout equipment, eight birthday party and event rooms, and of course the pools, which Haviland plans to maintain.