SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Ice In Paradise in Goleta opened up nearly five months ago and this weekend it will host its first college hockey regional tournament.
The ice rink is home to the UCSB club hockey team. The Gauchos club team started back in 2011 but this is the first year they are playing in front of a home crowd. The season started 5 months ago and come Friday night they'll be shooting for a championship as they play host in the National Collegiate Hockey Association Southwest Regional Tournament.
"Oh it's incredible. Just being able to play in this rink and giving you a home advantage with our fans is pretty cool too," said Jaguar Lawrence, UCSB Left Wing.
Before Ice In Paradise was built the Gauchos had to travel to Channel Islands Ice Center in Oxnard for the nearest ice rink. That facility is expect to shutdown next month meaning Goleta will now be the only ice rink available up and down the coast.
"It's really really instrumental in the growth of the game here and Santa Barbara that we have a rink for not only Santa Barbara but for our entire community around here," aid Jack Norqual, of Ice In Paradise.
This East Coast sports is quickly becoming popular in California, and right here in our own backyard. Ice in Paradise just started a High School hockey team and this is only the beginning.
"We already had the Philadelphia Flyers in here on New Years Eve. They are owned by Ed Snider and he is one of our major donors and helped us to really bring hockey to the greater Santa Barbara area," said Norqual.
The organization encourages the public to come out and watch. This is a free event for all ages.