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The Days of Summer: Play Hockey!

November 2, 2011 General No Comments

The days of summer: Play hockey!
By Joe Morales
Nov 6, 2001, 07:21

 

Soon the Stanley Cup finals will be well behind us and another hockey season will come to an end. In the Eastern U.S. and Canada, it was a tradition after the Stanley Cup playoffs to start putting the hockey equipment away into the attic or basement and begin to steer interests toward summer sports — if you weren’t signed up to go to a summer hockey camp. As hockey grew in popularity in the U.S., so did summer hockey programs, and soon clinics, camps and leagues were offered, providing year-round hockey for the “diehards.”

Today year-round hockey is commonplace for players of all ages. It is also a good time to start learning how to play the game as well as planning a “comeback” if you haven’t played for a while. Even though there are many diehards who play year round, a large percentage of amateur hockey leagues thin out during the summer. Summer interests, vacations, and maybe even chores seem to open large holes in rosters of established teams. For the most part, playing during the summer is not taken as serious as the winter leagues, so it is a good time for the unconditioned player to get into shape. For the novice, it may be a good time to make the jump from a clinic into an organized league.

Summer hockey leagues are normally run a bit more loosely than the highly-competitive winter leagues. Generally, player stats are not maintained and rarely are trophies given, but this may vary from league to league. Summer hockey is also a good time to move to another rink or league, maybe to compare player caliber or just to have a change. Whatever your reasons are for continuing to play in the summer, here are a few tips which may help you choose a team and a league which fits your needs.

 

Caliber of play

One of the first things you may want to consider is caliber of play. Whether you’re joining a summer league as an individual or with a group of other players, careful consideration should be given to this; especially if you are a novice or intermediate player or a player who feels that it’s time to move into a more competitive level of play. Honestly assess your skills as well as your team and decide if you and your team can compete. The opposite situation exists for seasoned players and teams. Do you really want to play in a league where you totally out-class all of your opponents? I Like to play hockey and win, but it doesn’t feel the same when you play a team and beat them in high double digits.

 

Goals

Your goals as well as your teammates should be well thought out, and hopefully everyone will have a meeting of the minds. A primary objective is to have fun, but there are many players who are very competitive and take their game seriously. As stated earlier, many of the summer leagues are not tightly maintained, so maybe those highly competitive players might want to “chill out” a bit while playing summer league. At the same time, you (and maybe the rest of your team) may decide that you don’t want to take things too lightly to the point where not enough players are showing up to the games (a common problem) or there is a whole bunch of “fooling around” on the ice and on the bench. To pay up to $300 on a 15-or 20-game summer league and treat the whole thing like a big “joke” is an awful waste of money and is not fair to the other players.

Because most people take vacations in the summer, attendance has always been a problem on summer league teams. When joining a summer league, be up front with the rest of your team when you will miss games. Again, I can’t understand players who put down a hefty sum of money to play summer hockey and only show up for 10 percent of their games. Choose a team which is conscientious about attendance so you’re not wasting your time playing on a team which might forfeit most of the games.

If you’re a novice or intermediate player making a jump into a more competitive division, choose a team where your fellow players might help you develop your skills and work with you. At the same time, if you and your summer teammates are seasoned players, you might want to mutually decide if you want to take on players who are not up to the same caliber as the rest of the team. Again, this all depends on how competitive you want to take your summer league competition.

 

Experiments

Summer is also a good time for team building. I have seen many players form a summer league team and things worked out so well that they decided to stay together into the winter season. Again, the less competitive atmosphere of summer leagues allows many teams and players to “experiment” with different players and positions. Maybe you’re a forward and want to change to defense, or may-be you had a life-long ambition of playing nets. The summer is a good time to try a new position.

 

Tournaments and vacations

Because amateur hockey has grown across the U.S. during the past several years, many organizations nationwide host hockey tournaments throughout the summer. In the West, several big tournaments are held in Las Vegas, Santa Rosa, Phoenix, Reno and Carson City. With the popularity of these tournaments, it may be the perfect time to take a vacation and play a little hockey at the same time. I’ve played in summer tournaments in Vancouver, Las Vegas, and San Diego, and although most of the time I didn’t come home a “winner,” I always had a great time.

Well there you have it, hockey in the summertime. It almost sounds like mixing oil and water, but summer hockey will continue to grow despite the change in season. Hopefully, the tips given here will help you get the most out of summer hockey and provide a basis of your personal goals and needs. So instead of putting that equipment away, make room on the surf racks and keep the hockey equipment out all year.

Joe Morales is a transplant from New York and has been playing hockey for well over 20 years.

 

This first appeared in the 05/1994 issue of Hockey Player Magazine®
© Copyright 1991-2001 Hockey Player® and Hockey Player Magazine®

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