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County’s first ice rink debuts
ICE targets growth sport
ICE Hockey 3 es
Sisters Reggie and Summer Ross play in the Bandits hockey team locker room Thursday at The ICE. The new ice skating rink will make its debut Tuesday. - photo by Emily Furtsch
At a glance

The ICE is at 1345 Atlanta Highway, southwest of Cumming. Open skating sessions are scheduled as follows:

• Tuesday: 3 to 5 p.m.
• Friday: 4 to 6 p.m., 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
• Saturday: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., 7 to 9 p.m.
• Sunday: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
• Online:
The four Ross children have grown up on the ice rink.

Now, the family is spreading their love of hockey and skating by opening their own ice facility in Forsyth County.

The ICE will make its debut with a public skate from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday.

“We’re really looking forward to open the doors, show it off and get started,” said Sandy Ross, co-owner. “It’s not just a rumor anymore. We’re here and we’re ready for events.”

An open skate will cost $10 including skate rental, with a lower rate if you bring your own skates. The facility, which is on Atlanta Highway southwest of Cumming, also will offer figure skating, hockey and party events.

Last week, Ross and husband Paul bustled among the contractors, cleaning crew and rink professionals getting the warehouse-sized building into opening condition.

The two expressed pride in the work that has gone into producing a top-of-the-line rink.

“Most people walk in and they ask if a semi-pro team plays here,” Paul Ross said.

The man hired to build the rink has constructed others around the world for the Olympics and National Hockey League.

Aside from the ice, the facility has three party rooms, a parent waiting area with WiFi access, pro shop, snack bar, four fireplaces and five locker rooms, including one decked out for the home hockey team: the Bandits.

The Ross’ oldest son, Bear, came up with the name for the dream team his parents are forming.

Sandy Ross said hockey was always an interest for the couple, but it was when their oldest son picked up a hockey stick at age 3 that it became a family passion.

“It’s been an obsession and a love ever since then,” she said.

Wearing a shirt with the words “there is no off season,” Bear Ross, 12, waited anxiously in the Bandits locker room last week to try the freshly laid ice for the first time.

Only the Ross’ youngest child hasn’t hit the ice with blades on yet.

“Someday, she’ll be on skates,” said Sandy Ross of their 3-year-old daughter.

While hockey doesn’t strike most as the South’s quintessential sport, the folks involved with the ice rink were quick to note the enthusiasm of the local players.

“It’s a small community, but it’s a big community at the same time,” Sandy Ross said. “It’s bigger than you would think down here.”

The ICE’s general manager, Stephan Normandeau, will also coach a traveling hockey team for the Bandits.

As a member of the Atlanta Amateur Hockey League, Normandeau said the sport is “growing a lot here in Atlanta.”

He was excited to be a part of the Ross’ rink, which he called “their dream.”

About four or five rinks are available in the metro for residents to play hockey, Sandy Ross said, so people are looking for more ice time.

“We’re not even open, and we’re already having to turn people away,” she said of nearby hockey teams.

The family hopes to get the facility included in the traveling circuit and plans to take the Bandits to a competition in Florida over Labor Day weekend.

Paul Ross said the location will open opportunities for Forsyth County and other communities in north metro Atlanta to give skating a try.

“People have to come out here,” he said. “When you see the look on kids’ faces, it’s great.”