The Rinks’ free Street Hockey Showcase coming up June 24
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When the Anaheim Ducks and the Irvine Ice Foundation announced the approval of the new Great Park Ice Complex set to open in the summer of 2018, South Orange County knew it needed to get ready for hockey.
With the addition of four new ice sheets, the largest ice facility in the United States will not only provide current hockey players more rink time, it will also open up opportunities for new hockey players to get on the ice and start playing themselves.
However, for most of these future hockey players, their excitement cannot wait until then.
The closest hockey facility, The Rinks-Irvine Inline, has seen a dramatic increase in their Inline Learn to Play registrations, creating a long wait list as more and more families look to get their children into the sport and get a head start before the new ice complex comes to town. To capitalize on the huge wave of new participants, The Rinks-Irvine Inline is introducing the new Youth Street Hockey League as another introduction point for hockey players.
Often played with just a hockey stick, an orange ball, and maybe a trash can (that acts as a net), street hockey is commonly played on the streets of California. The minimal gear required makes it just as popular as other sports like soccer, baseball, and basketball in neighborhoods.
However, this popularity does not always translate to more children playing in organized leagues, especially for players from low-income families. While playing in a street hockey league introduces kids to some of the basic rules of hockey, it also gives them an opportunity to play hockey in an organized setting as part of a team without the investment that ice and inline hockey require.
Meanwhile, both the Ducks and The Rinks are still making it even easier on families who are interested by hosting a free Street Hockey Showcase day on Saturday, June 24.
The event will feature a street hockey clinic, public skating and raffles, all while providing many players their first experience at a Rinks facility for free. They will also provide each player the required helmet, gloves, and stick that kids needed to play and even provide shin guards for those that would like to wear them.
“Street hockey already is a great way to start playing the sport of hockey at a low investment cost allowing parents to make the choice to play ice or inline hockey much easier,” said The Rinks marketing associate Craig Appleby. “At the end of last season at The Rinks-Huntington Beach Inline, 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. A few of them have even continued into in-house hockey leagues.
“We hope that this pattern also translates to the South Orange County market and we have similar results, with a number of kids continuing on into other programs.”
The league, starting Saturday, July 8, will be played 5-on- 5 plus goalies and will utilize the sport court hockey rinks at the mostly outdoor Irvine Inline location. Players will be split into two leagues according to age, with players under the age of eight battling in the Mighty Mites division, while the older kids will be competing in the main division.
Both division champions will be determined after an eight-week season that consists of games and clinic style practices, all occurring on Saturdays. The Rinks’ staff of expert coaches will be available to help develop the kids along the way.
For more information on the Great Park Ice Complex or introductive hockey programming, including the Anaheim Ducks Youth Learn to Play or the Youth Street Hockey League, visit www.therinks.com.
— Tanner Privia