I am a hockey addict. It’s Stanley Cup playoff time and I am unable to control the compulsion to watch. I go through agonizing withdrawal in the months that follow. I believe, however, that I’ve made an important step in being able to admit to you, and to myself, that I am an addict. But it wasn’t always this way. I wasn’t born into this dependency. There was a time when I was hockey-free . . . before my son tempted me with the seemingly innocent game of roller hockey.
He was 8-years-old and had worn out copies of all three ‘Mighty Ducks’ videos. Then he took to ripping out all the screens of my Florida screened-in patio trying to slap a hockey puck into his little sister’s big plastic play-house. There wasn’t much in the way of ice rinks around South Florida in those days. But I knew I had to get him on a rink somehow. That’s when we discovered roller hockey. I found an outdoor league and signed him up. That’s where the full-blown hockey addiction I suffer from today began.
In the years to come, The Florida Panthers moved in. Ice rinks began to pop up around South Florida and my son became very excited to get on the ice. He spent several years playing in the rec and high school leagues and a few playing around the country with a travel club. But he never quit playing roller hockey. With ice hockey came more discipline and a degree of pressure. Don’t get me wrong, he absolutely loves ice hockey. But when ice season was over and the roller hockey season began, there came a sense of lessened pressure and a unique joy that could be equated to a pick-up baseball game with your friends after a long little league season.
For those of you that haven’t seen roller hockey played at a high level, I feel sure you would be amazed at the beauty of the game. Yes, it certainly is a different game than ice hockey. While there is no checking allowed, don’t think for a second that it’s not physical. With only four skaters, it is a more wide-open game than it’s ice counterpart. And although it is certainly a team sport, there is much more room for individuality. The lack of checking allows players to hold the puck longer, creating displays of stick-handling like nothing you will ever see on the ice. I have heard it said that, although roller hockey players have much to adjust to when transitioning to the ice game, their puck-handling skills are often much more advanced than their ice-trained counterparts.
My son plays roller hockey at the collegiate level now. His Florida Gulf Coast University team, in their first year of existence, played in the DII national championship game in April. They beat teams from Denver, Missouri, Texas, Michigan, Illinois and California to get there. Only to lose a double-overtime championship game to none other than another Florida team, The University of Miami. It was an amazing accomplishment for a first-year team of all underclassmen. And, undoubtedly, an experience none of them are likely to ever forget.
But to be honest, I really miss those cool evening games under the lights, on those outdoor rinks, against the backdrop of a beautiful South Florida sunset. As odd as it may sound to my northern friends, that’s where we discovered and fell in love with the game of hockey. That’s where my addiction began – on a cement rink with a chain-link fence.
I am thrilled to introduce the latest addition to the eBrush Design hockey collection – ‘Roll With It’, a tribute to the exciting sport of roller hockey. Check out the other roller hockey designs available at HockeyShirtShop.com: iDangle, DangleMeister and Let’s Roll