Inline hockey will take a big step forward on Friday with the grand opening of the outdoor pavilion for the sport at the Kansas City Ice Center (KCIC) facility in western Shawnee.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
The outdoor pavilion has been used for ice hockey, but with the warmer weather in the spring and summer months, it’s time for inline hockey.
“This is the first year for inline hockey at our facility, and inline hockey has fallen off rapidly in Kansas City due to a lack of organized play and facility to do so,” said KCIC director of inline hockey Richard Hawkins.
There are a number of differences between ice hockey and inline hockey. The most obvious difference is that players are on wheels for inline hockey. In ice hockey, athletes play five-on-five with a goalie, while it is four-on-four in inline hockey, and there is no icing the puck or offsides. In addition, there is no checking or major body contact in inline hockey.
“The costs to play inline hockey is considerably less due to the overhead to run the program,” Hawkins said. “You don’t have to pay high electric bills and maintenance of a chiller machine that freezes the ice from underneath.”
The inline hockey program this spring and summer will include boys and girls plus adult men and women. The age groups are 6-under, 8-under, 10-under, 12-under, 14-under, 17-under and adults.
The KCIC uses floor tile for the inline hockey program in the outdoor pavilion.
“We purchased this floor to be installed on top of the concrete once the ice is melted down,” Hawkins said. The plastic blue floor tile will stay down in the fall and winter with the ice frozen on top of it.
“We are hoping to have a lot of our regular ice hockey players step up and play inline,” Hawkins said. “We also have spent a lot of time and money bringing in the best facility and floor to play on. We are hoping this will draw in new people.”
The organization is also going to host several big tournaments from the youngest age groups through adults. The hope is to bring in players from across the country.
Hawkins is inviting everyone to the grand opening from 7 p.m.-10 p.m. on Friday, a free event. The KC Ice Center is located at 19900 Johnson Drive in Shawnee.
“This is for everyone who wants to put on a pair of roller skates and come out,” Hawkins said.