As the hockey season was underway earlier this season, visitors to the Danbury Ice Arena heard thick THUDS coming from a room in an upstairs hallway after the games. An investigation would have led them upstairs to discover an activity that’s not only unexpected, but something impossible to imagine in this ice arena just years ago; axe throwing.
“It’s a very finicky sport, but once you get the feel for it the easier it becomes,” says Axe Tricks Manager Gryffin Syme. “I’ve taught a lot of people at this point, and it’s become extremely popular. The more relaxed, the more you can do things consistently. People have become so excited about it that we are thinking of forming a league to compete against other venues one day.”
It may look easy, but I can tell you that looks can be deceiving. Watching your friends make fools of themselves is all well and good until it’s your turn. No matter how coordinated you think you are, once that axe handle leaves your hand and that axe plummets pitifully toward the wall, you’ll quickly realize it’s going to take many more tries before your inner warrior can shine forth. It’s no wonder you’re required to sign a waiver before attempting it. Once you get the hang of it, though, there’s little that is more satisfying.”
However, it’s not only the sounds of axe throwing that can be heard, but music, cheering, a game of pool table, drinks being poured, television, and banter. Put this all together with incredible lighting and a fun, nostalgic atmosphere and you’ve got the new Axe Tricks Throwing Lounge at the Danbury Arena, located on the second-floor concourse of the arena.
“Once you have a ticket, you are welcome to join us in the lounge, which opens an hour before the game at 6pm and stays busy after the game until around midnight,” Nick Garofalo, Arena General Manager at the Danbury Arena. “We had a good thing going before COVID, and now that the pandemic has done its thing, we are back to filling the arena with up to 2,000 per game, and it’s awesome to see the resurgence.”
We are all happy to see a comeback from the pandemic, but Garofalo also spoke of a return in the popularity of hockey in Danbury, following the infamous era of the Danbury Trashers.
“There’s a documentary on Netflix called Untold Crimes and Penalties, which is about the first professional hockey team in Danbury, the Danbury Trashers,” he said. “Not to spoil it, but it has a lot of hockey nostalgia, along with some familiar faces to the arena.”
Obviously things aren’t like that anymore, but with the spur of healthy competition that axe throwing encourages and the revitalized energy of the arena, the local culture is making a comeback.
“In 2019, the arena came under new ownership.
My first day with the new ownership,” says Garofalo. “It has totally transformed, it’s not just a place for your kids to come to go skating or play hockey, it has become an entire entertainment complex. There’s a modern arcade, new upgraded concession menus, bars upstairs and downstairs, upgraded suites etc There’s truly something here for everyone, both on and off the ice.”
The “resurgence” Garofalo mentioned will only continue from here, and will start opening to the public the first Friday of May and following Fridays.
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