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Long Prairie to host WDC hockey practices this season

Wadena-Deer Creek hockey players will be using facilities at Long Prairie's Expo Arena this winter on a temporary basis.

The June 17 tornado that went through Wadena left pieces of the Wadena Community Center scattered over a wide area and created the need for a new facility. The local high school hockey teams had been renting ice time in the facility since it opened in 1985.

Wadena city officials declared a 180-day moratorium on building at their regular monthly meeting Tuesday night. While the decision was not the one WDC boys' hockey coach Dan Savoie was looking for, he firmly plans to be coaching varsity hockey this winter.

"We're probably going to play every game on the road, but we are going to have a season," Savoie said.

WDC activities director Norm Gallant has met with Long Prairie activities director Randy Swanson and the two men have hammered out a practice arrangement. Wadena-Deer Creek boys and girls would take a bus to Long Prairie. One team would use the ice while the other was involved in dryland training.

Gallant has received an offer from Wahpeton-Breckenridge, one of the teams scheduled to partipate in this year's Wolverine Invitational, to host the three-day tournament Dec. 28-30.

Savoie has received permission from the Minnesota State High School League to hold a meeting with his team this week. Savoie wants to brief his players on the new situation.

At present, the Wolverines have a 25-game schedule which begins Nov. 30.

Long Prairie-Grey Eagle district is paired with Sauk Centre and Melrose in boys' hockey and the four communities form the Prairie Centre North Stars. To give the WDC boys ice time, the North Stars will be practicing in Sauk Centre, an 18-mile drive from Long Prairie. Sauk Centre and Long Prairie have been splitting Prairie Center practices and games. Swanson indicated that the Prairie Centre boys would be able to practice at the Long Prairie facility if the girls were out of town.

The Long Prairie arena is also used by Jim Conrad's Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Wadena-Deer Creek Blue Devils.

Conrad teaches in the LPGE district and his team has divided games and practice time between the two communities. Conrad has been assisted by George Behl of Wadena.

The Blue Devils, who have a 23-game schedule, are also planning to use the Long Prairie facility for just one year. The Blue Devils are slated to open their season Nov. 19.

Long Prairie is 39 miles south of Wadena.