The Rinks: A breeding ground for future hockey stars
Fridays at The Rinks-Huntington Beach Inline are often filled with familiar faces and their happy smiles as the Top Flight Street Hockey League takes center stage.
Of these faces is the one of Peter Yencso, a 17-year-old boy hailing from Fountain Valley. He has a love for the sport of hockey that is undeniable. He is one of the few players who has participated in all three styles of hockey that The Rinks has to offer. From first stepping onto the sport court in street hockey, to lacing up the inline skates for an Inline Learn to Play, to finally advancing to ice for the first-ever Top Flight on ICE event, Peter has done it all.
Yencso started his playing career at The Rinks-Huntington Beach Inline as one of the founding members of the Top Flight Street Hockey League presented by Choc Childrens, a program designed to give individuals with special needs an opportunity to play hockey. He has quickly soared to being one of the more dominant players in the league and now has made observers accustomed to seeing the occasional hat hit the floor after he nets his third goal in the game.
“The games are great, and I’ve learned more about stickhandling, teamwork, passing, and stealing the ball from my opponents,” Yencso said. “I’m still getting there. I’m going to have to keep on practicing.”
This attitude pushed Yencso to want to continue develop his skills and improve his game. When he took the next step and joined the Saturday Street Hockey League, the transition was seamless. He instantly grasped the skills he learned during Top Flight and used that advantage to become an effective player with the extra playing time he was getting. Coaches and teammates praised Yencso’s efforts and his skills, including The Rinks-Huntington Beach Street Hockey director Ron Alexander, who also coaches him during Top Flight.
“Peter made the transition look so easy and even with the extra padding that he wasn’t used to, he continued his great play and even found the back of the net despite the faster pace of the game in front of him,” said Alexander.
When the next opportunity arose for Yensco to move to the next level, of course, he took it. He was finally able to strap on a pair of inline skates during a session of the Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play program, powered by Ducks NHL stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Once again, he embraced it – the skates did not faze him at all as he flew around the rink with ease.
“Top Flight has taught me a lot of valuable lessons,” said Yencso. “Every time we do drills, I get better at them each time.”
Recently, Yencso stepped up once again when The Rinks hosted its first-ever Top Flight on ICE event last month at The Rinks-Lakewood ICE. The program is another Rinks initiative designed to give special needs individuals a chance to learn how to ice skate or don the equipment for an ice hockey clinic. Yencso quickly potted his first goal very early on in the class despite it being harder to slow down in skates.
“I loved it,” he said. “It’s something new, and I enjoyed it.”
The Top Flight Street Hockey League starts its new season in January.
When asked about what his favorite memory has been at The Rinks so far, Yencso quickly responded: “November 22, 2014. On that day, we got to play with Ducks players Rickard Rakell and Josh Manson in our game.”
For more information on The Rinks and all of the program offerings including, but not limited to birthday parties, public skating, ice skating, inline programming, and the Top Flight program, visit www.TheRinks.com.
— Tanner Privia