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Groundbreaking for new outdoor hockey rink in Hastings to help veterans and their kids

The plan is to have the ice rink ready to go by fall of next year.

HASTINGS, Minn. — They call Minnesota the land of ten thousand lakes.

They could also call it the land of ten thousand ice rinks, they’re everywhere, but a new ice rink in Hastings is going to be different than all the others.

The United Heroes League (UHL) purchased a 55-acre stretch of land in Hastings in 2016 to create a one-of-a-kind campus for veterans and their kids.

The site is already home to a veterans monument, an archery range, and an obstacle course, and pretty soon it will be home to a new outdoor hockey rink for kids.

"So they can experience hockey in a field of dream of their own,” Hastings Mayor Mary Fasbender.

The UHL’s plan is to host leagues, games, and skills training at the rink, so the kids of veterans can find camaraderie with other kids who are experiencing the same challenges they are.

"To make sure that these kids have the opportunities to stay active. A lot of times we see that they have challenges sleeping, they have challenges in the classroom, they're missing a parent,” UHL board chair Tom Patnode says.

Many current and former NHL players have also made commitments to host camps and skills training for kids, including Hastings native and former Wild player Jeff Taffe.

"It brings a lot of joy to people and it's really neat to be a part of this,” Taffe says.

And it's not just hockey, as more donation dollars come in the United Heroes League is hoping to expand to other sports as well.

"The vision is to eventually have a soccer field, eventually maybe have a football field and potentially a baseball field,” Patnode says.

The plan is to have the ice rink ready to go by fall of next year.

They're hoping to host their first games and leagues in either October or November.

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