By Lee Samuels

LAS VEGAS – That’s it. It’s all over at the Santa Fe Ice Arena.

The figure skaters whirled about at center ice. The hockey skaters, in multi-colored jerseys, did laps around the outside lanes. Rinkboard parents sipped coffee and bunched near the south end. The music was nice and loud.

And all of a sudden, at 4:00 pm, it was over.

There will be no more skating at the Santa Fe Stations Ice Arena which has been opened since 1991.

The first skaters to take advantage of the ‘Free Skate’ on the final day the Santa Fe Station Ice Arena will be open to the public, hit the ice for one last time on Sunday afternoon.

No more enemy teams coming in. No more big hockey tournaments with those invading, imposing, hard-hitting AAA teams in town. No more Buddy on the Zamboni. No more clanging gates. No more Hockey Sister spinning CDs at faceoffs. No more heading to the Food Court and asking for a slice of the good stuff from Village Pizza. No more walking to Starbucks for a pre-game cup.

Even the big Pepsi scoreboard was dark.

Rink manager Rob Pallin, wearing his new Fiesta Ice Arena Manager badge, proudly showed off new blueprints of the new rink which will open on Rancho Drive this fall.

John J. James, general manager of the Fiesta, said the Santa Fe rinkboards, the thick rink glass and one Zamboni will be heading to a rink in Utah.

And the sheet of ice?

“There are 30,000 gallons of water out there,” said James, peering through the rink glass and looking at the sheet of ice. “So you have start shaving down the ice maybe a half-inch at a time, then begin to melt it down.”

It’s a process which will begin in a day or two.

Meanwhile, no more ice time is scheduled.

“The sign company YesCo will take down the Santa Fe scoreboard and take it to the Fiesta,” James said. “We’ve bought a new Zamboni and we’re taking one from here. We plan to get a front-loader, lift the Zamboni and drive it over to the Fiesta.”

“So many things to do”. Santa Fe Rink Manager and Las Vegas Rebels Midget-Major Head Coach Rob Pallin sits in his rink office among the mass of memorabilia he has collected while coaching ice hockey at the Santa Fe over the years. Pallin will be packing up and moving out in a couple weeks for the Fiesta.

Pallin will work out of his office here for the next several weeks before heading to the Fiesta.

“So many things to do,” said Rob. “We’re in a shutdown phase and we need to move a lot of things to the new arena.”

The banners, including the coveted, giant 2001-02 Mustangs Pacific District Champions one, have been taken down and carefully packed.

“The Fiesta is going to a vibrant, brilliant ice arena,” said James, speaking to the rinkboard parents. “We are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a snack bar. Wait until you see it. We will have a community trophy case, on the right side as you walk in. We will have a First Aid Station. We will have 500 seats in the bleachers. The new Arcade will have 23 machines. Hot coffee? We have a contract with Boyd’s and it’s good stuff.

“We’ve got new nets coming in too,” James added.

Still, for many rinkboard parents, who huddled about making small talk here, the rink closure is a total shock.

We’ve been coming into this ice-cold, refrigerator-like arena for years, for practices and for games.

When the Final Skate was almost over, Tanya Root – a Team Mom for so many hockey teams here – took one last look towards the ice and said “I’m heading for Starbucks in the casino…..for one last cup.”

Final Rinkboard Notebook at the Santa Fe – There were over 100 skaters on the ice….then, some of the older skaters stayed over for a pickup game. Sammy Micco was the goalie….Chris Francis, Ryan Krametbauer, Eddie Del Grosso, Eddie Samuels, Josh Odoms, Chad Butcher, Sean Stackhouse, Jeff Root were among those on the ice…Also skating was coach Rob who actually looked pretty sharp….

In the bleachers, for the record, Patty DeGrosso was the last to take photographs….

There are 3 men’s leagues games scheduled to start at 6:00, 7:30 and 9:00 pm Sunday and that’s it – no more games at the Santa Fe….