Stockton community members are hoping the city's professional hockey team, the Stockton Heat, can help shed positive light on the city in more ways than one.

Since 1970, the Oak Park Ice Arena, located on the corner of East Alpine Avenue and West Lane in Stockton, has welcomed countless families for celebrations.

The rink offers youth and adult hockey, skating lessons, figure skating programs, along with public skate sessions. The arena is also home to the Stockton Colts youth hockey club, a competitive, traveling hockey program for a wide range of ages.

"The people won't change and the people make the community here at the rink," explained Derek Eisler, the arena's operations manager. Eisler is one of the many Stockton residents who grew up playing sports at the arena, and can recall some of his favorite memories from when he was playing hockey.

A lot of action has happened on the ice since it opened nearly 50 years ago, but not much has happened overhead.

"Ever since I was a kid and have skated here the bulb lighting has always been just like you see it," said Eisler, referencing the fluorescent lights overhead. "Now I run the rink for the last five years and it's still the same lighting."

Eisler explained there are five different switches required to turn on all the lights throughout the rink. Many of them work in a way similar to Christmas lights where if one bulb goes out, other will as well.

But now Eisler has a chance to change it. And, with a few quick clicks you can help him make it happen.

Oak Park Ice Arena is among 10 finalists in a nationwide contest for a brand new LED lighting system valued at over $50,000.

The lights are similar to those that the Heat and other professional hockey teams play under. The free upgrade would not only illuminate the rink and help ensure safety for those on the ice, but it would also significantly lighten the financial burden that comes with keeping the current old school lights on for 11 hours a day.

"If you can lower that expense then that lowers everything," Eisler explained. "That lowers your cost of rentals and it becomes more of a community rink that you don't have to go and increase your rates all the time."

Your vote could help the Oak Park Ice Arena continue to brighten the lives of those within the Stockton community by giving them a chance to make their own memories at the rink, like Eisler did 30 years ago.

"We want Oak Park to be... We always call it the 'beacon of hope' here in Stockton," said Eisler. "Where kids can come, where families can come, have a good time, be in a safe environment and enjoy ice activities."

You can vote here once per day now through March 2. Oak Park Ice Arena is looking to become one of four rinks to advance to the final round from March 5-18. The winner will be announced on March 20 and installation of the LED lighting system will take place this summer.

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