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Briercrest Cuts the Ribbon on Saskatchewan’s Newest Arena
The arena, named after Briercrest’s chancellor and former hockey coach, boasts one of the province’s largest ice surfaces at standard NHL size.

Briercrest College and Seminary’s hockey fans will never shiver with cold during a hockey game again. On February 7, after a 20-year wait and in the presence of more than 500 people, the schools’ leadership cut the ribbon on the Barkman Arena. They effectively laid to rest Sparrow Gardens, the school’s old (unheated) hockey arena and former WWII airplane hangar, after 60 years of service.

The Briercrest College Clippers, played one of their first games in the Barkman Arnea.
Photo courtesy Briercrest College and Seminary.

“This has been an incredible page in our history book,” said President Dwayne Uglem at the opening ceremony.

The arena was named for John Barkman, who can testify to Briercrest’s legacy and the role that hockey has played in it. Barkman is a former Briercrest student, hockey coach, athletic director, vice president, and president; its current chancellor; and a longtime supporter of the college and highschool’s varsity athletic programs.

Construction of a new arena was an important project for him personally, having come to Briercrest in the late 50s because of its hockey team. He says that God “worked in his life” when he got here, and he’s been in integral part of the school’s life—and its hockey program—ever since.

A new arena was on board agendas long before he served as Briercrest’s president from 1990-96, so when Uglem told him the project was moving forward, he immediately asked how he could help. “I’d love to finally build that arena!” he said.

“Today, we say thank-you to one of our founders,” said Uglem. “John, we love you…and we’re thrilled to put your name on this new building.” He was met with a standing ovation.

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The new arena is a dream come true for a few others as well—like alumnus Jamie Ramer, who came to Briercrest (Bible) College in 1993 to play hockey and stayed for five years. He says the program solidified his faith, having “placed a unique emphasis on faith and life in the game.”

“This is so much more than a rink,” he says. Barkman Arena is Saskatchewan’s newest hockey rink, and it will boast one of the province’s largest ice surfaces at the standard NHL size of 200 feet—even the local Moose Jaw Warriors skate on a surface that stretches only 196 feet.

Other highlights include a glass viewing wall that will extend the length of the lobby, heated seating for 500, ten dressing rooms, and a full concession area. It will also be fully handicap-accessible and offer public skate sharpening.

Its construction was made possible by the Briercrest College and Seminary’s capital campaign, Future In Focus, which is raising funds for the hockey arena, program and faculty development, scholarships, and a chair of biblical studies. The campaign goal is $10.8 million, and the arena accounts for $4.5 million of the total.

Johanne Robertson is the editor of Maranatha News.

Originally published in Maranatha News, March 11, 2009.




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