Hockey comes of age

A hardcore band of mostly Canadians living in Cayman are keeping the various forms of hockey going; ball, field or roller versions can all be played here.

The president of the ball hockey association, Mark Thompson, is also captain of the Hammerheads. An avid player in his home town of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, he has been a keen exponent since arriving in Cayman in 1986, soon after it had been introduced here.

There are only seven teams playing at the King’s Centre every week but the faithful have kept it going for two decades.

‘I’m Canadian so hockey’s in my blood,’ Thompson, 37, said. Then he joked: ‘I’m getting old now so I’m not one of the best players. We’re mostly Canadians in this league and a few Americans, couple of Brits and Aussies but that’s about it.’

Thompson has been a landscaper for 15 years and has also started the Cayman Islands Sauce Company, promoting his own hot sauce.

‘Hockey’s good fun, great exercise and the competition gives it an edge. I play roller hockey too. I think ball hockey is harder on the body but on rollers you get hurt more often. Actually, I prefer roller because you can glide.’

The new ball hockey league started a couple of weeks ago and besides the Hammerheads, the other teams are Legendz, Professionals, PwC/CIBC Scorps, UBS Crunchers, WestTel Barracudas and Bateman & Co.

Cayman Buzz, the Compass’s sister publication, is one of the Cayman Islands Ball Hockey Association’s sponsors. It is sponsoring the league, the international team and the Caribbean Cup being held here in May.

The last time Cayman hosted the Caribbean Cup, organised by Bassel Durzi, teams from Bermuda, Turks and Caicos, Barbados and the Bahamas competed with Bermuda winning and Cayman runners up.

Thompson has seen it develop considerably since the days in the late Eighties when everything was ad hoc. ‘The games were really informal back then. We just wanted to get out and have some fun.’

Now matches are properly refereed and timed and played every Thursday evening at King’s.

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