Dek hockey fun in Hudson
By Paul LaVenture, Contributing Writer
Hudson – In New England, ice hockey is a popular sport for many girls and boys. But in Hudson there is another type of hockey that has also seen a boon in recent years – Dek hockey. And on most days in the fall or spring after 4:30 p.m., the town rink on Municipal Drive is filled with kids ages 4 to 16 playing this popular game.
Dek hockey is the official name of what first called street hockey, ball hockey, or floor hockey. The name “Dek” is derived from the work “deck” because it is played on a raised floor covered with a special, hard plastic surface, and enclosed in an 80- by 180-foot rink, similar to ice hockey.
The program in Hudson has been in existence for about 30 years and has been a nonprofit since January 2008, according to Steve McGuigan, the league's registrar. There is a $100 fee per player that goes toward administrative costs, referees, timekeepers, and a team-sponsored T-shirt with the player's number on the back and sponsor's name on the front. The coaches donate their time for the kids.
The league consists of four divisions: Chipmunks, ages 5 and 6; Penguins, ages 6 to 10; Beavers, ages 10 to 13, and Cadets, ages 13 to 17. With the exception of the Chipmunks, each team within a division plays 10 games during the five-week season plus one week of playoffs. Chipmunks play 12 games.
Teams have two lines of five players, a goalie, and one extra. Penguins and above play three 10-minute periods, and stop play every two minutes to change lines. Beavers and Cadets, however, are allowed to change on the fly. Chipmunks only use half of the rink and play for one hour of running time.
“These kids are in the Chipmunk level which is purely just a learning group. They don's even do practices unless we want to do them,” explained John Lalley, an assistant Chipmunk coach.
Rob Hitrik, who is also an assistant coach, added, “It's pretty much learn the positions, the basics, run around and have fun.”
When asked about tryouts, Tom Porter, the league's president noted, “Nobody gets turned down. In spring, if too many start signing up, they put the word out that you must be from Hudson. They give preference to town kids. It's a placement rather than a tryout. Coaches get to see all the kids and then pick teams.”
There is also a regular draft where the coaches pick their teams one round at a time.
“In the spring we get as much as 400 players which completely books this place solid seven days a week. This fall we had 277 which is a little below normal,” McGuigan said.
All kids must wear full equipment – a helmet with face mask, shin guards, gloves, and elbow pads.
The game is as fun for the coaches as it is for the kids.
“Every game is a funny story, such as the kid putting the ball in the wrong net and thinking it's a goal. Right or wrong, they'se happy and you don's want to discourage them,” Matt Rice, a Chipmunk coach, said.
McGuigan recalled that the freak Halloween storm in 2011 almost derailed the season until volunteers stepped in.
“We had 50 people down here shoveling and snowplowing to clear this place out so we could play hockey. The kids did it and we got the games in,” he said.
The fall league starts in mid-September and ends in early November. The spring league runs from April until early June.
For more information visit http://www.hudsondekhockey.com/home.htm
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