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Hawaii, part 3: The arena and the players

November 19th, 2011

(Part 3 of a multi-part look at the Hawaii leg of the trip.  Start at the beginning.)

The Arena

Walking from the warm, humid night air into the cold of the area instantly transported me thousands of miles back to the mainland.  I had been lounging on the beach earlier in the morning, but inside the rink, I could have easily been back home.  It was a little piece of Minnesota in the tropics.

The ice itself wasn’t all that great.  It looked like it hadn’t been painted in decades, the white having transformed to clear, showing the concrete beneath.  The coolant lines were marked by changes in the ice quality, letting me imagine what it would be like to skate on corduroy: frozen, slush, frozen, slush; and then after some more set-up time: hard, soft, hard, soft.

There were no locker rooms.  Changing meant going up a flight of stairs to a party area overlooking the rink, grabbing a plastic chair, and changing in the open.  I know I’ve been advocating for more spacious changing facilities in rinks, but I didn’t really mean for the rink itself to fill that role.

The benches were literal benches situated outside the perimeter of the rink.  Christmas wreathes and garland punctuated the blue-and-white walls.

Yes, you could say that the Ice Palace wasn’t nearly as nice as the absolutely spectacular rink I used at Plymouth State in New Hampshire.  But you know what?  That didn’t matter.

It was ice, it was in Hawaii, and it attracted a bunch of highly enthusiastic players.

A league game at the Ice Palace in Hawaii.

The Players

I was one of two goalies at the pickup game.  The skaters, enough for 5v5 with a few subs on each side, showed a wide range of abilities.  Some appeared to have just learned how to skate, while others looked as though they had played at least juniors.  A surprising number were from Hawaii, and the remainder were transplants from the mainland.

Chris, a 26 year old from Boise, Idaho, had picked up the game back home rather late in life.  That didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for the sport.  Even though he had been playing for only a few years, he brought his gear with him  when he moved to Hawaii for work.  It seems that even sunny warm beaches can’t cure the hockey bug once it infects you.

Martin, another skater, was also a 20-something, but he hailed from even farther away.  I was chatting with him while getting changed before the game, and he asked me where I was from.

“Minnesota,” I told him.

“Do they have much hockey in Minnesota?” he asked.  Clearly, he wasn’t from North America.

I paused for a second, blinked, and responded, “Yeah, we have a bit of hockey up there.  Where are you from?”

“Poland,” came the reply.  Ah, that explained it.

(to be continued)

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