United Heroes League celebrates grand opening of outdoor rink

By Bruce Karnick
Posted 11/17/23

Shane Hudella, Founder and President of United Heroes League (UHL) and his staff have worked hard for 15 years to bring sports equipment and amazing experiences to military kids and their families. …

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United Heroes League celebrates grand opening of outdoor rink


Shane Hudella, Founder and President of United Heroes League (UHL) and his staff have worked hard for 15 years to bring sports equipment and amazing experiences to military kids and their families. This past Saturday, UHL added another great asset to their complex located at 15211 Ravenna Trail. The complex already has a beautiful memorial and a military training course and now they have a regulation sized hockey rink.

The Scheels rink at Tradition Veterans Complex was the central focus of the day. They had the official ribbon cutting on Veterans Day along with a daylong celebration that involved food and beverage trucks, veteran and youth hockey games, a silent auction tent, a flyover and an official presentation.

The official presentation started with the singing of the National Anthem by John DeCausmeaker. State Champlain Buddy Winn gave an opening prayer, and the event was ready to begin.

Hudella started the event with a lot of thanks, “Happy Veterans Day, everybody, a special day for the men and women that served our country. And a special thank you to those that served and the kids and family members that serve right along with them. It's just an amazing day today for our mission, for military families and for the Hastings community. I have so many people to thank, so I'm hoping they don't miss anyone here. But I want to start by thanking our amazing staff and volunteers that just absolutely worked their butts off this last week so that we could all be here today and enjoy the first ever games on the rink. Hats off to them. I also want to say a very special thank you to Jason and the team from Scheels. We are at Scheels Rink at United Heroes League, and it wouldn't have been possible today without the support from the Jason's team at Scheels. So, thank you very much.”

Aside from Scheels being a major sponsor of the rink, it took a lot of construction pieces to actually put things together.

“The electricians from Hunt Electric, Enebak Construction with earthwork and providing water this last week, we've been flooding nonstop for two to three days out here to have ice and Enebak has been right there to have water for us. FPI paving, he has created this lot that we're all standing on in partnership with Boland and McNamara Contracting that provided the asphalt for it. Rink Tech has gone above and beyond. I see Kyle from rink tech standing back there. I don't know if Kyle remembers the conversation that we had a week ago, when he came up to me and said, Man, I don't think we're going to make it. I don't think we're going to have ice for Veterans Day out here. I gave him the sad eyes and told him a story about some veterans that are going to skate out here today, and I think Kyle Rink Tech called in every single favor he had in the hockey industry, in the hockey family to make sure that we could skate today. So big thank you to Rink Tech for making that happen. Pro Power Rental from Hastings, I think we exhausted every single piece of rental equipment that they had. I'm not sure how he had anything to rent this last week. HTG Architects designed this entire facility for us. We couldn't have built anything without their plans. Ryan Company did all of our concrete work. We had Comcast and Technology by Design out here. If you guys are out here with Wi Fi signal and your phones working, thank them. They put in all kinds of new technology for us just in the last week so that we could have signal today,” added Hudella.

They had received numerous donations from Cub and Pepsi to have beverages and snacks available. The Minnesota Wild brought some of their street team activities out so people would have additional things to do.

“I wanted to recognize one last individual and group none of this could have been possible without Tip and Jake Enebak and the family of Tradition Companies that has been behind us for years now. They had the faith in us to bring this Tradition Veterans Complex to life. They had the faith in us to help finance us and make not only days like today possible, but literally years to come of us being able to give veterans opportunities to go on the ice and heal, to deal with PTSD, to enjoy camaraderie and be a part of a team again. They also provided an opportunity for us with our complex to give military kids a chance to deal with the stress and the fear and the hardships when mom and dad have to go away. So, a big thank you to Tip and Tradition Companies for making all that possible,” said Hudella.

Mayor Mary Fasbender then spoke on the history of support for the military in Hastings and thanked Hudella for all the work that has been done at UHL.

Tip Enebak spoke next regarding the impact that Hudella has on the military families and communities that UHL serves, plus Hudella being an inspiration to many people outside the sporting community.

Jason Heintz, the General Manager of the Eden Prairie Scheels store spoke next.

“What a joy to watch this vision becoming a reality. Exactly six months ago to the day, I received a phone call from Tip that helped to shape our involvement with the United heroes League. He spoke of his passion to give back and the opportunity here today to make a difference in the lives of our military and their families. It was never intended for recognition, but instead to simply do what is right. I've grown to know Tip more, this is who he is to his core and this is certainly contagious. As we've learned more about the United heroes League, it was an exciting opportunity to get involved as an employee-owned company. We are always looking for ways to give back in the communities that we do business in, this was a logical choice with both our goals and mission. Military kids in sports, definitely check all the boxes,” said Heintz.

The focus turned to the Scheels Rink for the ribbon cutting where Heintz was given the scissors to do the honors and the rink was officially open for dozens of military kids to skate on and enjoy some practice time outdoors.

One of the coolest parts of the day was seeing Erik Mossberg, a military veteran who lost his left leg while on duty take to the ice for the first time with his son. The team at UHL and many others worked tirelessly with Bauer and a prosthetics manufacturer to make a custom skate prosthetic so Erik could surprise his son by skating with him. It was truly an amazing moment to witness.

As the night became closer, several Hastings Youth Hockey teams were able to play a game on the outdoor rink. The final game was played by the Bantam B1 team who defeated St. Paul 2-1.

Other events of the day included autographs by Zach Parise, Devan Dubnyk, Mark Parrish, Jeff Taffe, Wes Walz, Steve Payne and Taylor Chorney. Fist Full of Ladies performed from 5-7, braving the evening cold and giving a great show to fans.

There is still some tweaking to do on the rink setup, likely more lights and a few adjustments to the paint on the ice, but overall, the rink held up well. With the forecast being 60, the rink will be closed this week until temps get to a more manageable level. Eventually, once things are more dialed in, expect to see some open skate times for the community and there will certainly be more youth and even some high school games at the rink.

We caught up with the exhausted Hudella at the end of the day to get his assessment of how things went for the day.

“The dream finally came true,” he said. “Today we've got an outdoor, NHL regulation sized, refrigerated ice rink here at United Heroes League. Today was a tremendous day to celebrate Veterans Day and the men and women that serve our country and their families and the military kids. Then just the cherry on top was to be able to bring in Hastings hockey this afternoon and integrate our community into our mission and, and bring both the military and civilian communities together. So really a great day all around. I received just tremendous feedback about what a Field of Dreams rink this is and how great it's going to be for our community and for the city of Hastings and for our mission and just tremendous feedback all around from today.”