Local hockey league has goal to grow
Park City Ice Arena public relations manager Jason Glidden knows how fast hockey can grow.
Before moving to Utah, Glidden watched a hockey program go from water poured on a field in the winter to two ice sheets and 650 people playing hockey in Missoula, Mont. It’s this type of passion that he hopes to see ignite in Park City.
"I know this program can do the same thing," Glidden said.
The sport has already experienced considerable growth. When the rink first opened two years ago for a partial season, 65 people came out to play in the newly-formed Park City Hockey League. Last year, there were more than 150 hockey players on the rosters.
And this year? Well, Glidden and Park City Ice Arena hockey coordinator Deb Modrovsky say ‘the sky’s the limit.’
"We’d love to continue to grow," Modrovsky said.
It looks like they are on their way. Last summer, 140 Parkites seeking respite from the sweltering sun joined in the summer hockey league, meaning numbers this winter could double again.
Modrovsky said that all walks of life have been coming out to play in the new league. Firefighters, business owners, ski staff and a number of other people with diverse backgrounds come out weekly to socialize and compete.
"It great for networking and contacts," Glidden said.
All of the leagues are co-ed and divided by skill levels A, B and C. At the top is the A level, which caters to former college players, former high-level amateur players and the like.
"We had people come out that said, ‘I put my stuff away, because I didn’t want to travel to Salt Lake,’" Modrovsky said.
The B and C levels are for the experienced player that played recreationally. Glidden said this was the group for him.
"It’s a lot of fun," Glidden said. "You get hooked very quick."
Last year, Modrovsky grouped A and B together, but this year B and C will join to make the mid-level more competitive, Modrovsky said that in a perfect world there would be enough practice time on the ice to keep all divisions separate, but for now, she thinks combining levels is working.
One thing that is nearly perfect is the availability of the ice for games. Unlike many of the rinks in the Salt Lake valley, Park City can still offer the rink at reasonable times. That means games at 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. rather than the 9 p.m. or 11 p.m. game times that league hockey usually experiences. But popularity may change that as more locals get onto the ice. Currently there are six teams in the A level and six in the B/C combined schedule. The B/C level plays other teams in their division and the A teams play each other and competitive teams in Salt Lake.
The A-level teams may group themselves together as they wish. The forming of the B/ C teams is a bit more interesting. Players are drafted onto a team and may be traded throughout the year. The professional hockey style of managing players ensures that leagues stay competitive and also encourages individuals to keep their skills sharp.
" drafting, we make sure no one team is better than the other," Glidden said.
"We want close games," Modrovsky added. "Everyone’s working really hard, but having fun too."
There is more than just league play to lure people onto the ice. On Monday nights, the rink holds a skills-and-drills program with Bob Devaney that allows people to work on their game. Stars of the game including Claude LeMieux, Andre Faust and Grizzlies coach Jason Christie have all made mid-summer stops to work with the league players.
Those interested in signing up for any of the PCHL hockey leagues have until Nov. 5 to register for the discounted fee of $300. Any sign-ups after that date are $325. Goalie registration is half-price. The A level plays games on Tuesday nights and the B/C level games are on Sunday nights
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