MASON CITY, Iowa - The North Iowa Recreational Arena has been the home ice for the Mason City Mohawk Youth Hockey Club for nearly 4 decades. And throughout the years, generations of players from all across North Iowa have worn the Mohawk jersey.
Austin Maginnis was a goal tender for the club for a time in the 2000's; his teammate Chris Jessen played forward.
"My father played hockey, actually played for Mason City growing up. And played behind the old Sears building as a kid, so followed in his footsteps," Maginnis says.
For Jessen, he received hand-me-down equipment from relatives.
"No family background as far as my parents, so the first in my family to play hockey."
Now that they have kids that are picking up on the sport, while also taking up coaching duties behind the bench, they have fond memories of playing at the 'old barn.'
"Any time we had a home game against the Des Moines teams, the Oak Leafs or the Capitals, when they'd come to town. It was always an intense game because they were usually one of the top teams in the league," Jessen says.
"Probably just the camaraderie with all the guys from squirts on up to high school. Even into juniors. I got to play with my brother in high school, and that was pretty special to me," Maginnis adds.
And the arena would be rocking.
"It gets pretty loud in there. We'd fill it with quite a few people, you get all the parents and you get good involvement with the schools, even though it's considered a club sport type of thing."
With the move to the new downtown arena in sight, the alumni had to plan something special for their last hurrah. Little did they know they'd get around 60 old players for one last skate, who would give their home ice the proper farewell it deserves.
"Guys from Colorado, got guys from Nashville. Got a guy from Puerto Rico to come back, and even California too," Maginnis says.
And with the new arena, Jessen hopes that it might spur an increase in members.
"I know numbers have been down over the past few years, but hopefully the new excitement will come from it and we'll get some more involvement," Jessen says.
While it is sad to say goodbye to the club's longtime home, both have toured the new space, and are sold on it.
"I'm excited about it. I'm excited about my kids playing there and hopefully continue to grow Mason City youth hockey," Jessen adds.
"Watching it from afar, I've always thought the rink we have that's been home for so long...you never thought it would go away," Maginnis says.
Saturday's alumni game is part of a weekend long 'last skate', including JV/Varsity games against Fremont, Nebraska, public skate, tours of the new arena, and a live and silent auction, with proceeds going towards naming the high school locker room after longtime coach John Lloyd.
While the Mohawks have not yet announced when their first game at the new arena will be, the first public skate is slated for December 15th.
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