METHUEN — Hockey is a sport played on ice in the winter, but the Recreation Department has been keeping the sport alive during the hot summer months by hosting a street hockey league for youngsters at Veterans Park.
“We try to get (street hockey) in between seasons,” Recreation Director Bill Pare said. “Baseball has ended and football hasn’t started yet; we try to make it as accommodating as possible.”
Pare explained there’s a great difference between street and ice hockey.
“Anybody can play,” Pare said. “It’s good exercise and you don’t have to know how to skate to play. It’s fun for the kids and it gives everyone another option to participate in sports.”
Debbie Blackwell said the decision to enroll her 7-year-old son Brett was simple. “He plays all the time at home,” Blackwell explained. “He plays ice hockey as well for Methuen youth hockey.”
Brett isn’t the only member of the Blackwell household involved in the program. His father Bill, Masconomet Regional High School’s varsity ice hockey coach, is his street hockey coach, while 4-year-old brother Drew is just waiting his turn.
“He goes out and warms up with (Brett’s team),” Debbie Blackwell said of her youngest son. “He can’t wait to get out there.”
Kim and Dave Dickson have two sons competing in the league — on opposing teams. “We decided to have them play against each other to keep up the competition,” Kim Dickson said. “They’re very competitive and they like to play a lot of street hockey at home.”
Normally Kim Dickson roots for both Connor, 7, and Gavin, 8, but this particular game was hard for her. “Connor is usually on defense and I just root for everybody,” she said. “But tonight he’s in goal, so I just hope they don’t score on him.”
For Kim Dickson, whose sons also play Methuen youth hockey, street hockey is the perfect thing for the kids to participate in during the offseason. “This is such good training for them before they get on the ice,” she said. “They learn to use their sticks and the running helps with their conditioning.”
There are four teams — Bruins, Flyers, Lightning and Hurricanes — in the program for youngsters 7 to 9. Each team plays two games a week on Monday and Wednesday nights from the end of July until mid-September.