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Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Gettin' ice time

Frozen Celina pond offers inline hockey players a unique experience

By Nancy Allen

Members of the Celina-based Wings-N-Wheels inline roller hockey league play ice. . .

About 20 boys strapped on skates over the weekend for a few games of ice hockey in Celina.
Where's the ice rink in Celina you ask? It's on a pond behind Matt Berry's home in the Wheatland Acres housing subdivision.
Berry is one of several volunteers who oversees the Celina-based Wings-N-Wheels inline roller hockey league, which holds weekly practices at the Mercer County Junior Fair Building in town.
Berry's pad with a frozen pond gave the boys - many who are used to inline hockey only - a new experience. The family originally planned to move to a country home with a pond to give Wings-N-Wheels members the ice experience before finding the Celina dwelling and moving there in late 2007.
"Pond hockey is different than standard hockey in that it de-emphasizes longer shots," he explained. "You don't want to lift the puck and chase it everywhere, you want to have more finesse and more precision so a smaller goal is used."
Before going on to the ice, Berry drills a hole in it to check the thickness. A minimum three inches of ice is recommended for people to be on it. The ice's thickness was about five inches on Sunday when they played.
Berry said there is actually a national pond hockey tournament held annually in the United States. In cold-climate states like Wisconsin and Minnesota, the sport has its own subculture, he said. In these states they use a shovel and snowblowers to clear the ice, not a Zamboni.
"That's where the sport of hockey really originated was on a pond, lake or a stream ... it's the game nature intended," he said.
This past weekend 20 boys between the ages of 10 and 18 came to play their own version of pond hockey at the Berry home. Before they left, they were asking when they could come again.
Berry himself is from Grand Rapids, Mich., and grew up playing varsity hockey, so he thinks the built-in ice rink behind his home is pretty cool. And now his inline skaters can enjoy it too.
"We're going to hope for below freezing so we can keep on playing," he said.
For more information about Wings-N-Wheels inline hockey league go to http://www.wnwhockey.org/.
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