North American Hockey Academy Makes Jay Peak Home Ice
May 20, 2011 (Jay, VT)- The continent’s most elite female hockey players are moving to Jay Peak. The North American Hockey Academy and the resort signed an agreement this week making Jay Peak’s Ice Haus Arena the academy’s home rink. NAHA, as it is known, also entered into a lease-to-purchase contract with a local hotel to become the property’s sole tenant, giving the organization a new headquarters.
Founded in 1998, NAHA has become the gold standard of hockey academies, attracting talent from as far away as Alaska and California. The school’s intense training and rigorous competition schedule has been responsible for graduating dozens of girls who have been selected for the United States’ Under 18, Under 22 and Senior National Team, as well as Division I universities. NAHA has placed more graduates in D1 universities in the past decade than any other program in North America. The academy’s staff includes Cap Raeder, the former assistant coach of the Tampa Bay Lighting, and Vincent Riendeau, a former NHL goalie who played with the Montreal Canadians, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Boston Bruins.
“We are really excited about the move,” remarked Jesse Driscoll, a head coach for NAHA. “It’s important to us to have the community support our mission, and when we saw what Jay Peak was doing with the new (Ice Haus) arena, the move was a no-brainer. The resort’s willingness to provide not only home ice, but access to all of their offerings to our families, fans, and the hundreds of skaters who attend our tournaments and camps really proved to us that we had the backing of the resort.”
NAHA had previously been located in Stowe, VT, but decided to move after a campaign to fund a new skating facility failed, and their home rink closed for the summer. Jay Peak officials worked with NAHA staff to find the academy a new headquarters, one suitable for housing and feeding the 40 athletes that are in residence every year. The Inglenook Lodge, a European-style hotel located less than a mile from the resort, was available, and NAHA and the lodge owners’ arrived at an agreement giving the academy sole use of the property’s 20 lodging rooms, its dining facility, common space, sauna , indoor pool, and surrounding land.
“This is a perfect example of why we built the rink,” said Dennis Himes, manager of Jay Peak’s Ice Haus. “I’ve either played or coached hockey all of my life and have followed the success of NAHA. These are the best female hockey players on the continent and it is going to be really exciting to watch them practice and play here at Jay Peak. Plus, the dozens of tournaments they’ll host throughout the year is a great addition to our resort event offerings.”
Aside from the on-ice excitement, Jay Peak officials anticipate a business upside for the resort and surrounding community.
“Opening the door to a partnership like this was one of the driving factors behind our revitalization efforts,” remarked Steve Wright, Jay Peak’s vice president of Sales and Marketing. “NAHA is a magnet for elite hockey talent and the brand they’ve built over the years fits well with what we’re doing here (at Jay Peak.) Plus, the tournaments and camps they’ll host will energize the region and bring business to our shoulder seasons when typically our community sees a substantial lull.”
Jay Peak opened the NHL-sized Ice Haus a year ago this month. The $6.5 million facility can seat over 700 people, has four locker rooms, a rental and retail shop, and a restaurant. The resort is in the middle of a multi-year revitalization project that to date has seen the opening of the 57-room Tram Haus Lodge, the Ice Haus, and the Clubhouse, a golf facility complete with a restaurant, outdoor patio, and three luxury suites. Next season the resort will open the new 170-room Hotel Jay, Conference Center and Pump House, a 50,000-square foot indoor waterpark.