ALISO VIEJO : New Ice Rink Slated to Open Next Month

Richard Klimkowski had staved off his kids’ pleas to play ice hockey for months. He had a plausible excuse: He didn’t want to battle the traffic all the way to the nearest ice rink, half an hour away in Costa Mesa.

The distance excuse won’t work anymore.

Next month, three South County entrepreneurs will open the Aliso Viejo Ice Palace, the only ice rink in hockey-crazed South County.

“Kids want what they can’t have,” the Laguna Niguel doctor said. “I grew up in Connecticut playing ice hockey on the ponds, but we really wanted to surf.”


So Klimkowski will shell out about $1,000 for his 9- and 12-year-old sons to play at the Ice Palace--$200 apiece to join a league, and about $300 apiece in equipment. “You come here, and all the kids want to do is play ice hockey. Thank goodness for ice rinks.”

The three Ice Palace partners, Glenn Bushway of Trabuco Canyon and Mission Viejo residents John Rudenski and Chuck Heathco, hatched the idea for the new rink two years ago when they realized the demand.

“So we started doing demographic studies and concluded that there was definitely a need here,” Rudenski said.

Already, hundreds of parents have signed up their eager young hockey players at the rink on Journey Avenue, near the intersection of Pacific Park Drive and Aliso Creek Road.


Although the partners originally intended to build the rink from scratch, they eventually decided to lease a light-manufacturing building and construct the rink inside. The retrofit will cost more than $1 million, Rudenski said.

The rink should be ready for public skating, adult and youth ice hockey, and figure skating by mid to late September, Rudenski said.

Besides the ice surface, which at 185 by 85 feet can hold up to 300 skaters, the rink will have bleachers for 140 people, an enclosed concession stand, two private party rooms, a pro shop and a video arcade.

Rudenski said the rink should help keep bored teens out of trouble.


“The problem down here is the kids don’t have much to do,” he said. “They can just go to the movies and the mall. The community has been wanting other choices.”

Both roller and ice hockey have mushroomed in recent years here, spurred by the coming of the Mighty Ducks to The Pond in Anaheim.

“The Disney movie ‘Mighty Ducks 2' just came out on laser disc,” Klimkowski said. “Now even my 7-year-old is all ready to go out onto the ice.”