Ball hockey usually gets the glory with local players participating in international tournaments, leaving its sister sport of roller hockey somewhat overlooked.
But that’s about to change.
Although many players participate in both the roller and ball hockey leagues at Kings Sports Centre, what has always set ball hockey apart is its constant appearance at international competitions.
Kings sports director Evan Ellbogen said he intends to increase roller hockey’s stature in the coming months.
“With the adults, the pickup summer games on Sundays were a great introduction to the league,” Ellbogen said. “The season began last Tuesday and there is a lot of great talent. Going forward, in a couple years we hope to transfer talent from the youth league up to the adult league.
“We have to take it to new heights because now, after a certain age, the kids stop playing. One of the new initiatives we’re doing [to combat that] is a Thursday skill night for kids 17-years-old and adults who want to learn the game.
“Roller wants and needs to be on a comparable level to ball hockey. Those guys have had great success at international tournaments. At the end of this year or early next year, we hope to get roller travel teams going.”
This summer, Cayman competed in the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation 2013 World Street and Ball Hockey Championships in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. Local skaters, who were selected by the Cayman Islands Ball Hockey Association, finished fourth in their seven-team group. Forward Ryan Pull and goalie Randy Cannon were among the stars.
The world championships are nothing new for local skaters. Cayman has appeared five times in the competition, including a fifth place finish in Bratislava, Slovakia back in June 2011.
With roller hockey, the 2013 fall national inline hockey league started last week with four teams in the Deloitte Sharks, Burger King Gamebirds, Cayman Hot Sauce Flames and Mepco High Rollers. Reigning champs Deloitte, with talents like Dan Etherington, lost to Eric Mildenberger and Burger King, 11-3, while Ellbogen and the Flames thrashed Andrew Finlason and the High Rollers, 12-5.
League matches are slated to continue on Tuesday, Sept. 10. At 8:30 p.m., Sharks battle High Rollers and at 9:30 p.m., Flames challenge Gamebirds.