Ducks’ Youth Street Hockey League back for second season
Cold winters, waiting for the closest pond to freeze, strapping on your ice skates and skating well past the point of when your toes froze – that’s what most hockey players talk about when it comes to their memories of playing the game as a kid.
For hockey players from California, however, this does not resonate with them. The option of skating on a pond all winter is traded in for most days of the year being warm and sunny. Instead, California hockey players talk about memories of going out in front of their house and running around in tennis shoes, using a beat up hockey stick, and shooting either a tennis ball or an orange plastic ball into a net.
Street hockey is commonplace in California, and is often a child’s first touch point to the game of hockey in the Golden State. One of the reasons street hockey is so popular to play is because like sports such as basketball or baseball, not a lot of equipment or previous skill is required. All you need is a hockey stick and ball – a net is a bonus.
Friends may get together and play 2-on-2 or 3-on-3, but playing a full 5-on-5 game with goalies is near impossible, whether it is because of the inability to get a full number of kids or the lack of having a suitable playing space. The Anaheim Ducks and The Rinks are hoping to solve this issue by relaunching the Youth Street Hockey League at The Rinks-Huntington Beach Inline at the end of May. The league will be played 5-on- 5 plus goalies and will utilize the sport court hockey rinks.
Playing in a street hockey league introduces kids to some of the basic rules of hockey and gives them an opportunity to play hockey in an organized setting as part of a team without the investment that ice hockey or even inline hockey require. The Ducks and The Rinks are making it even easier on families who are interested in the league by providing the required helmet, gloves, and stick that kids need to play and even shin guards if a child would like to wear them.
This season of youth street hockey at The Rinks-Huntington Beach Inline will be the second consecutive summer the league has been offered. One of the reasons behind the decision to relaunch the league this summer was due to the influence the league had on many kids who played last summer.
“At the end of last summer, we had a large number of our street hockey kids decide to continue to play hockey and participate in one of our inline hockey or ice hockey learn to play sessions,” said The Rinks marketing associate Craig Appleby. “A few of them have continued past learn to play into in-house hockey leagues. We hope that at the end of this summer we have a similar result, with a number of kids continuing on into other programs.”
Street hockey is a great first touch point to the sport for many families because it takes away the intimidating part of having to learn or know how to skate in order to work on the other fundamentals of hockey such as stickhandling, passing and shooting.
The Rinks-Huntington Beach Inline hosted a free youth street hockey clinic on May 7 and nearly 50 kids turned out for the session.
“For many of the kids who came out to the free clinic, it was their first time in a hockey facility,” Appleby said. “They have been playing street hockey at home, but never have stepped foot in a hockey facility with organized leagues and for a select few kids, it was even the first time they had played hockey at all.”
For more information on the Youth Street Hockey League, visit www.hbinline.com/youthstreethockey
— Jason Effertz