Haverhill Valley Forum Enjoys Its Fourth Year of Operation In Style
It seems like just yesterday when the lot on Parkridge Road was nothing but a pile of rubble. Fast forward four years and the site located in the Ward Hill Industrial Park in Haverhill has become a destination for hockey players and programs from around the country.
The Haverhill Valley Forum will be entering its fourth full year of operation after the New Year… and what a three years it has been.
Since its humble opening back in February of 2007, the state-of-the-art, twin rinks facility has hosted thousands of hockey games from mite to Junior A level. It also serves as the home of the Valley Jr Warriors, Masco Youth Hockey and the Skating Club of Andover.
A tour of the facility makes it easy to understand why players and spectators alike are enjoying the experience. The premier sports center features two 200' x 85' ice surfaces, a spacious, glassed-enclosed mezzanine level overlooking both ice surfaces, full-service pro shop and concessions center, 12 team locker rooms and a training facility operated by Athletic Evolution, to name just a few of the many amenities.
The training facility – located on the second floor – has truly set the Haverhill Valley Forum apart from other facilities in the region. The expansive training area – which boasts state-of-the-art equipment – is not only available for general public personal training sessions but it also serves as the physical training center home for the Valley Jr Warriors.
For the third straight season and as part of the annual in-season tuition, the Warriors players take part in-season, structured strength and conditioning programming aimed at improving overall strength, conditioning, speed, flexibility, agility, and body control while also mitigating the risk of injury in competition. All of these improvements occur under the supervision of certified strength coaches.
Programs from across North America are certainly taking notice of the many benefits of the facility. With each passing year, the Haverhill Valley Forum has expanded the number of special events that are hosted throughout the season. Regardless of the temperatures outside, the inside of the HVF – as it affectionately known by its regular visitors – is always ready and prepared for action.
This past season, for example, the facility hosted the Valley Hockey League Championships in March and – without missing a beat – opened its doors to the 10-week long Valley Spring League and a host of league play and summer camps. One of the biggest draws of the summer was the return of Hockey Night In Boston. For the second straight season, a field of the world’s top high school talent traveled to Haverhill to take part in the four HNIB Tournaments from July through August. The event will enjoy a third season in Haverhill during the summer of 2010.
The month of August was capped off by a week-long Valley Jr Warriors summer camp (another program benefit) and the Warrior August Showcase, which drew more than 30 AAA level teams. League and high school play was briefly interrupted in November when the Valley Jr Warriors Junior A squad hosted its 13th Annual Warrior Classic… an event that includes a field of the top Eastern Junior Hockey League teams and Independent Division teams.
Perhaps one of the highlights of the fall, however, was the Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament. In just its second year, the event drew a record 62 teams from Canada and across the United States.
“There is no question that the Haverhill facility has helped us draw better and better teams from across the country to our tournaments,” said Fred Devereaux, the VJW director of player development and tournament director for the August Warrior Showcase and Warrior Thanksgiving Tournament. “Players and coaches enjoy the high quality on-ice conditions, while the parents and spectators have a comfortable and welcoming environment in which to watch the games.”
Two popular special events added in 2009 and making a return in 2010 are the Boston Bruins Holiday Tournament – sponsored and run by the Boston Bruins Foundation – and the Masco Classic in February. Proving the saying right that “if you build it, they will come”, the Haverhill Valley Forum is the third Valley Forum to be built on the North Shore by GLS, Associates.
The Lawrence Valley Forum opened its doors in January of 1996, while the Malden Valley Forum was introduced to the hockey world in November of 2001. All three facilities are open year round and have their own special draw and unique character. The Malden Valley Forum, for example, is the home of the hockey teams from Tufts University and Malden Catholic High School while many exciting moments in Andover High School hockey history were played out in Lawrence. Both of those facilities also offer public skating opportunities throughout the year for those just looking to hit the ice for fun with friends and family.
With another busy winter and spring season just around the corner, there is no question that the three Valley Forum facilities have proven that they can handle the challenge and stand the test of time.
The only question remaining is what the Haverhill Valley Forum will have in store in year four.