For the past 26 years, Bozeman has been the proud home of the fierce Icedogs. From the beloved and unforgettable Valley Ice Garden, to the Haynes Pavilion of today, players have come from all over the country to hit the ice and defend Bozeman’s honor. Anybody walking into the skating rink can feel the great energy and camaraderie of the team, but the Icedogs are much more than just a team. Head Coach Mike Perkins put it best when he said, “It’s great to bring hockey back to Bozeman, but the relationships are the best part.” Being an Icedog is a crucial stepping stone for those looking to make it to college hockey and other senior men’s leagues like the Bozeman Stingers. One of the biggest hurdles to face as a team is recruiting the best players. Not only are they representing the Icedogs, but representing the community as a whole. That gives coach Perkins and Associate Coach Jeff Burton the chance to mold these young men into responsible, hard-working players that Bozeman is proud to call their own. The entire team is required to either work a job or go to school part-time, and still be in the locker room at 7:00 a.m. the next day for practice.
Hockey has always been an integral part of Bozeman. The second the ponds freeze over, you will see kids and adults across town hit their local parks and ponds for the love of the game. As many of the Icedogs have left their home for the first time to live on their own and hone their game, Bozeman continues to put a grip on the hearts of every player. Even NFL SuperBowl Champion Dane Fletcher, a former Icedog, let Bozeman pull him back to open a great training center (The Pitt) where you will find the Icedogs when they aren’t on the ice. The beauty of Bozeman brought coach Mike Perkins back after coaching Junior Hockey in Butte. His love of the game and the players is a proud addition to the town. The legacy of the Icedogs has put players all over the world, with many players heading on to NCAA and ACHA college hockey. Yet it comes as no surprise that many of them come back to make Bozeman their home. It takes a village to raise a kid, and even more to raise an Icedog. After the loss of the Valley Ice Garden, groups like Gallatin Ice and the Bozeman Amateur Hockey Association have been proud supporters, keeping the gears turning and the ice frozen for all the players, while Lydia Klemencic and Dawn Perkins take care of everything in the background for the Icedogs. Any local kid could make their way to the rink and get started with Gallatin Ice’s Learn to Skate programs all the way up to practicing with the Icedogs before they make the team.
The next big goal for the Icedogs, and all of hockey in Bozeman, is the completion of the Ressler Motor Ice Rink inside the Ice Barn. Local businesses and individuals have the opportunity to help support the completion of the new ice rink, complete with stadium seating ready to seat 1800 fans. Donations can be made to Gallatin Ice or by getting in touch with coach Mike Perkins at email@example.com
The most important thing folks can do is go out, watch the games, and cheer on the team. The Icedogs are electric and bring tons of passion to the game. No matter where the players come from, they put Bozeman on the map as a force to be reckoned with throughout Montana and the rest of the country. Keep your eye on the schedule so you don’t miss out on the next game. The ice rinks of Bozeman are always full of life and the Icedogs continue to be an inspiration for the next generation of youth hockey players.