BERLIN — For the second time, North Country Businessman Dan Dagesse has come to the rescue of Berlin’s historic Notre Dame ice arena.
Family and hockey enthusiasts gathered at the area last Thursday to celebrate the latest donation and the renaming of the arena as the Nucar Notre Dame Arena.
Dagesse has donated $300,000 to the arena to make some needed upgrades including a new chiller. He also pledged an annual donation of $30,000 for scholarships to teach kids how to skate and provide equipment for those who in need. That is intended to keep a steady stream of hockey players to continue the city’s hockey tradition.
In 2007, Dagesse made a $250,000 donation to cover needed renovations at the arena. That donation allowed the arena to replace the entire dasher board and glass system, install a complete building dehumidifier, and replace one of the two compressors.
Representing her father at the check passing ceremony, his daughter Jenny Olson said her father is a supporter of the arena because he loves the city. Olson, who owns Mountain Tire Company in Berlin with her husband Luke, revealed her dad never played hockey. In fact, she said Dagesse is one of the most “unathletic’ people she knows.
The donation is also a way for Dagesse to celebrate his latest venture - the merging of AutoServ, AutoNorth, and Plymouth Ford into Nucar. Joining the ceremony were Nucar partner and President Shawn Hanlon and Dagesse’s partner at Colebrook Chevelot his brother-in-law, Don Noyes and sister.
Notre Dame Treasurer Paul Grenier said the donation will put the arena on solid financial footing and ensure it remains a part of Berlin’s future. As important, Grenier said is the annual pledge that will allow all local kids to learn to skate and play hockey regardless of financial means.
Built in 1947, the arena is one of the oldest in the state. It was the brainchild of Father Omer Bousquet of Angel Guardian Parish in Berlin. It is now owned by the non-profit Notre Dame Area Corporation. The arena was rebuilt after the roof collapsed in 1969, killing one player.
Hockey in Berlin has been an integral part of the city's Franco-American culture. From 1947 through 1976, high school teams from Berlin High and Notre Dame High dominated schoolboy hockey in the state. Between them, the two teams won 28 state titles and two New England titles. Until 1972, the city also hosted the Berlin Maroons, a senior A hockey team, that won the New England Championship seven times and three times national champions.