Southern California is hot, sunny and snow is one of the last things that the state brings to mind.
Hockey is growing in popularity in Calif. With the start of preseason games on Sept. 21, the thought of why sports fans, even on the west coast, should appreciate hockey has been the discussion in the newsroom.
The resources to play ice hockey are more limited than going outside and playing baseball or football.
Hockey is a sport that requires size, endurance and a lot of hand-eye coordination. According to numerous studies conducted by ESPN and other sports enthusiasts, ice hockey was ranked as the second hardest sport to play, coming behind boxing.
Many people may find hockey boring because it is usually a low-scoring game. However, that is not always the case. Also, what people don’t realize is that the low scoring games tend to be the best. An even skill level on both sides tends to make the game more exciting.
According to Matt Jollif, Manager of the Pro Shop at Riverside’s local rink Ice Town, “Hockey is like soccer without the diving, baseball without the steroids and football with 82 games in a season.”
The level of skill involved in ice hockey is one that is hard to be matched when considering the level of coordination required to shoot a puck that is 3 in. in diameter into a net that is four by six feet being blocked by a burly goalie whose sole intention is to keep the puck away from the net.
Endurance is required for players to skate back and forth while wearing pounds upon pounds of pads and equipment. Although players switch constantly, they are right back on the ice just as quickly as they get off. No other sport requires athletes to play that much.
Finally, size. Every sport requires size, but hockey requires size and grace. A player must be large enough to withstand constant checks and hits into the boards as well as check other players, and be graceful enough to stay on their skates.
The fighting is always an attraction during hockey games. Sure one can see football players tackling each other in order to keep the offense away from the end-zone, but a fight caused by something in the game and getting away with it proves a little bit more entertaining.
Hockey is one of California’s best kept secret, and one of its least appreciated sports. Aside from the weather, certain false ideas seem to be the reason.