HUDSON – Kevin Cabral knows the Dek hockey rink well.
He played there when it first opened in the 1990s. He is now a coach and sponsor in the Hudson Youth Dek Hockey League, and he is also a “hockey parent,” thanks to his daughter Mavis.
“The kids love playing hockey,” said Cabral.
As work continues on the new Dek hockey rink at Ghiloni Park, with completion scheduled for sometime this spring, the Hudson league and Central Massachusetts Elite Hockey League are closely following the progress of the rink, hoping to have their teams play there once it opens.
About Dek hockey
Dek hockey (also known as street hockey) is played on a special tiled surface suitable for sneakers. The surface can be used outdoors or indoors. Equipment is similar to ice hockey – helmet, gloves, pads and sticks – but is more lightweight.
The rules are also similar to ice hockey, except that body checking is not allowed.
“It’s a different way to play hockey,” said Cabral.
The Hudson Youth Dek Hockey League is a nonprofit organization that has no connection with the town; it welcomes players from all communities. According to Kim Bacon, a coach and member of the league’s board, a big advantage for Dek hockey is that the players don’t have to worry about skating skills.
“They can just be a kid and run around,” she said.
Another advantage – Dek hockey is not nearly as expensive as ice hockey. Cabral said it costs about $2,000 for ice hockey equipment, and about $110 for Dek hockey equipment.
Cabral’s daughter was among more than 60 children aged 8-11 who underwent player evaluations at the rink behind the Department of Public Works on the morning of April 8. Children aged 12-14 were evaluated that afternoon.
During the evaluations, league coaches led drills in passing, shooting and running.
The coaches then decided which player would play on which team within two divisions – chipmunk (younger) or cadet (older).
League play started on April 15; the season will last about seven weeks, including playoffs.
“It’s a great program,” said Cabral.
Dek hockey for adults
Kerry Shea played, and then coached, in Hudson. One of his teams won a national title in 2010, with a team of nine kids, no less.
He has been involved in Dek hockey for about 30 years.
“It’s a lot different” from ice hockey, said Shea. “With the ball, you can do a lot more things. It opens the door to the sport of hockey.”
These days, Shea has shifted from Dek hockey to roller hockey. Both sports are offered as part of the Central Massachusetts Elite Hockey League run by Shea and his son, Trevor.
Based at Northstar Rink in Westborough, the summer league will include Dek hockey for adults and inline (roller) hockey for youth and adults.
League play will begin in mid-May, and last until August.
For information, visit www.elitehockeyleagues.net/teams/default.asp?u=ELITEHOCKEYLEAGUES&s=hockey&p=home. For information on the Hudson league, visit www.hudsondekhockey.com/home.htm.