Glenn Cunningham knows he’s not exactly in the midst of hockey country.
That doesn’t mean the Massachusetts native isn’t committed to making the sport catch on in this part of the world, though.
Cunningham started an indoor hockey league in LaGrange last summer, and as the league closes in on its one-year anniversary, he’s always on the lookout for more players.
“We need to get the world out,” Cunningham said. “I’m one of those guys that’s always like, go, go go. But it takes time. We’ll have people show up and play once, or maybe twice, and they won’t come back. That’s the hard part. It takes commitment.”
There are a steady group of regular players who show up each week, though, and there are always enough of them to make up two teams.
The LaGrange Street Hockey League meets twice each week at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center.
The league meets on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., and Cunningham said it’s a little more low key that day, and that’s a great time for first-time players to come out and get a taste of the sport.
“Especially when most people haven’t played before, we introduce the rules slowly,” Cunningham said. “That’s what we do on Thursday with brand-new people.”
The league also meets on Sunday, and Cunningham said that’s “a little more intense.”
Cunningham said anyone who is interested, whether they’re a veteran hockey or someone who has never played the sport, is welcome to come out on Thursday or Sunday.
While some of the players use skates to get around on the indoor rink at the recreation center, most of them don’t.
“For the most part, everybody is just out here in sneakers,” Cunningham said.
When the players get together on Thursdays and Sunday, they’re divided into teams.
In a regulation hockey match, each team has five players on the rink at one time, but Cunningham said the playing surface at the recreation center isn’t big enough to allow that.
“On a regular hockey team, when you’re out on the ice, you’ve got five on five. This rink is too small for that,” Cunningham said. “The most we’ll put on here is four on four. It’s more comfortable three on three, but four on four would work.”
It is a physically challenging sport, with the players constantly running or skating up and down the rink.
And like any sport, there is the risk of injury, although Cunningham said there have only been a few incidents over the past year.
“One guy got the puck in the forehead and had four stitches, and the other guy got a stick in the lip, but he was OK,” Cunningham said. “And one guy had a tooth broke in half.”
Cunningham believes that if folks come out and give the sport a try, they’ll enjoy it.
Most of the regular players didn’t play hockey before, but now they come out twice a week.
“We started playing back on the 21st of July. That’s when we had our first game,” Cunningham said. “We’ve been slowly picking people up. We’re the regulars.”
OF NOTE: Anyone interested in the LaGrange Indoor Hockey League can come out to the Mike Daniel Recreation Center on Thursdays and Sundays. Play begins at 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays, and at 1 p.m. on Sundays. All equipment is provided.