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Defending a Summer Love

October 3, 2011 General No Comments

Defending a summer love
By Janet Del Tufo
Dec 1, 2006, 07:49

 

Janet Del Tufo

As Roller Hockey Interna-tional’s third season comes to a close, attendance seems to be an on-going problem for the league. Hockey fans throughout North America continue to show resistance toward the roller form of the game.

“They say it’s slow, boring, and not a physical game. They say there’s no hitting or checking,” says 23-year-old Carolyn Argenio, Los Angeles Blades season-ticket holder, of the friends she watches ice hockey with. “But they’re not boring at all,” Argenio says. “I like the game because there is a lot of scoring. There’s a lot of hard hitting and checking.

“I mean, the hitting is almost harder than in ice hockey, and it’s not slow at all. And you can sit close to the glass for only $6.”

Argenio isn’t the only roller hockey fan who has to defend her summer fun to ice fans. She loves the ice version as well (she only missed one of the LA Kings home games last season), but she hasn’t seen many of her fellow Kings fans at Blades games this season.

So let’s look at some of the issues of discontent, and set the record straight on what kind of entertainment one can expect next summer when attending an RHI match-up.

 

Complaint: The game is too slow, and it’s not exciting!

“RHI is more exciting—shift in and shift out,” ex-NHL penalty leader and Vancouver head coach Dave “Tiger” Williams says of the game he has been involved with since the inception of the league three years ago. “There’s never a boring shift because of the four-on-four situation. One bad hop, one great pass, and you’re in a scoring position. With four-on-four hockey—ice or roller—you’ve got to be able to do it all. You’ve got to be able to skate, handle the puck, and if you make a bad decision, offensively or defensively, there’s going to be a chance to score.

“And if your like action,” Williams says, “there’s more action and checking here than any action you’ll see in the NHL. Because the greatest player that ever played the game, Wayne Gretzky, (doesn’t get) hit solidly once every two years. And here, you can be the best in the league, and your gonna get rocked every quarter.”

 

Complaint: There’s no physical play, and the game is boring!

“When I played here with the (IHL) Phoenix Roadrunners, I’d talk to people all the time and they’d say, oh, wow, I’ve watched it on TV, and it’s so boring,” Phoenix Cobras forward and spiritual leader, Sean Whyte, says of his early conversations with friends in the Valley of the Sun. “But when you see it live, it’s a totally different situation. And it’s the same thing with roller hockey. When you see it live and you see everything happening at once, when you watch some really fancy plays happening, along with some great goals and bad hits—it’s a good game where the great plays are made through teamwork, which is pretty amazing.”

And the physical play?

“I’m more of a grinding type of player, so I think hitting happens basically in this game because your not as agile as you are on ice skates,” Whyte says in explaining the big hits that hockey fans witness at an RHI game. “When you are going down the boards on wheels you can’t stop as quickly, or turn the other way if you see someone coming at you full speed, so you get hit pretty hard into the boards. With that in mind, these teams have got to realize that there are going to be some pretty big hits, and have the attitude to use that to their advantage.”

Complaint: There’s no fighting.

Yes, fighting results in a league suspension. But there are fisticuffs. Witness the recent fallout from a confrontation involving Anaheim Bullfrogs tough-guy Darrin Banks.

“I’ve played against Marty before, a while back—maybe three or four years ago,” said the former Boston Bruins forward after a near scrum with San Diego Barracudas coach Steve (Marty) Martinson in the fourth quarter of a heated RHI match. “I don’t know who the guy was that I was fighting with there, but Marty had a few choice words for me, and I had a few back for him—just to remind him more or less of the last time we played against each other.”

 

Complaint: There are no star players.

“I think that they’re all excited that I am playing again this summer,” Rob Granato, Chicago Cheetahs forward and brother of LA Kings Tony Granato said about coming from a well-known and hockey-loving family. “All the home games—since I am from Chicago—my parents come to, and when my brother and sister are in town, they come out to the games, too. When I’m on the road, I get calls from the family; seeing how the games went and that sort of thing. We’re very supportive of each other, and that’s the way it’s been all the way growing up with everybody.”

The RHI is a young league still developing its own stars. But with family connections such as the Granatos, the McSorleys, the Hulls, the Howes, the Ciccarellis—and the likes of hall of famer Yvan Cournoyer holding post in Montreal—the star light should soon be bright enough to illuminate many of RHI’s SportCourt floors.

 

Complaint: There’s no reason to go to an RHI game.

“My brother and I got to go into the Bullfrogs locker room after the game, and I got my jersey signed by Joe Cook—and he’s really neat,” 11-year-old Steven Black said after he and a number of other youths were chosen to visit and see what it is like inside of a professional hockey team’s dressing area. Black, who attends every game with his mother, Kathy, plays roller hockey himself, and has his Anaheim jersey and cap signed by almost every player on the team. Post game autograph sessions on the concession level are commonplace at the Arrowhead Pond.

“We went to the National Sports Grill for the (“Talk to the Bullfrogs”) radio show where (Coach) Grant (Sonier) is there to talk, but they had some (technical) difficulties. So (Bullfrogs PR representative) Lisa Hickman gave us her card and had us call her. I got to go inside and see the players, and it was really fun!”

You can’t do that at an NHL game now, can you?

“No way,” the proud youngster responded.

This first appeared in the 10/1995 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
© Copyright 1991-2001 Hockey Player® and Hockey Player Magazine®

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