The Cube holds a special place in the hearts of the dozen members of the West Ranch hockey team, which planted 38 acacias at Pamplico Park on Saturday morning to thank the city of Santa Clarita for keeping the ice rink open and operational.
In May, the team won its first league championship. The win was on home ice at The Cube — a “second home,” according to the hockey players, who spent most of last season practicing in Simi Valley.
“This is our little project to give back and say thank you,” said Alec Stefanelli, a rising senior at Learning Post Academy, expressing his appreciation to the city for saving the ice rink.
Stefanelli and teammates Logan Bell and Patrick Dunleavy shoveled mulch out of a truck mid-morning after digging holes earlier in the day for the drought-tolerant plants in a planter near the park’s exit.
“It’s been kind of hot, but pretty fun,” said Bell, a rising senior at Academy of the Canyons, of the day’s work.
The team’s philanthropic project was the second time teammates have been together as a team off the ice since the state reopened.
The team reached out to the city of Santa Clarita, which asked the hockey players to help with this beautification project.
Kyle Patterson, a city maintenance worker, and German Garcia, a park supervisor, showed the team how to plant an acacia before turning the work over to the high school hockey players.
Patterson said the planter once contained grass, followed by mulch during the drought.
“They spread 20 feet each direction,” he said of the acacias. “It’s more of a ground cover.”
Stefanelli was excited for the opportunity to strengthen team bonds through the morning’s work.
“It’s nice to build these bonds that we have now,” said Stefanelli. “It’s kind of been special for us because we watched all the guys playing high school and now, we’re here. It’s nice to make it a reality.”
Tony and Sue Stefanelli, Alec’s parents, along with other team parents, provided a helping hand throughout the morning.
“It’s going very, very productive,” Tony Stefanelli said of the work. “It’s great to give back to the city that helped to give these guys back their ice rink.”
The team recently held tryouts at The Cube and will start practicing on Aug. 2 to prepare for the new season in September.
“It just seems the year’s off to a good start,” said Sue Stefanelli. “Things are looking brighter compared to a year ago.”