Ice Den 50+ Adult Open Hockey keeps players’ passion for the game strong
If you are over the age of 50 and looking for a fun and relaxed atmosphere to play hockey and get some exercise, then check out the 50+ Adult Open Hockey sessions at the Ice Den Scottsdale.
These sessions are held exclusively for seasoned hockey players and all participants must be born before or on today’s date in 1971 to participate.
Truth be told, the players don’t see it as folks their age getting together to enjoy a watered-down version of the game. They all love to get on the ice and rediscover their passion for hockey.
“It’s great to skate with players more likely to be on the ice for fun, a good workout and to sustain our love of the game,” said Steve Stralser. “We all have had to endure more conventional open hockey sessions where 20-somethings stay on the ice far too long, and if the occasional rocket pass is bobbled, bogeyed or missed, there’s no chance of their getting you in a play thereafter.”
Stralser has played hockey for the past 70 years, starting out on Michigan ponds before his family moved to Arizona in 1959.
“The first time I played indoors, or wore a helmet, I was in my 40s when I signed up for ‘learn to play hockey’ programs,” Stralser said. “Now, the ice time is perfect: time for morning golf before the game, followed by the requisite post-game beer(s) and home in time for the afternoon nap. Changing on the fly is great to manage shift length apropos to players’ athletic conditioning. Though there’s a range of player skills, the game is relaxed, with more skilled players supporting those of us less skilled.
“And, as many of us know, the fun and enjoyment of the game is as much about what happens before, and after the game as what happens on the ice.”
The 50+ Adult Open Hockey Sessions started in the fall of 2017 at the request of a group of experienced players wanting to play organized drop-in hockey that was less aggressive and competitive and more relaxed, focused on fitness, camaraderie and love of the game.
Since then, the weekly skates are held annually from October to April during snowbird season on Wednesdays from 12:15-1:45 p.m.
“I love the more level and attitude towards play,” Lee Martucci said. “It’s less physical and more fun. Great time slot and good level of play. Usually have two goalies, which is great. We just need to get the word out. We don’t need more players at our noon Wednesday time slot, but if we get more people involved, we may be able to have another time slot choice.”
Chuck Brokop said one of the biggest benefits to playing 50+ adult open hockey is less injuries.
“It’s fun competition without having to worry about taking a slap shot in the ankle from a college kid,” Brokop said. “Yes, it happened to me two years ago, and a kid fractured my ankle. With these sessions, it’s a great group of guys, a lot of laughs and chirping each other, and the program will keep growing if everyone keeps having fun and doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
“I’m very fortunate to be playing at 60 years old and still enjoying it. It is the best exercise I know of. I have also been skating at the Ice Den even prior to its opening. Skated with Mike O’Hearn and some others in the early Coyotes management and have been playing there for the past 21-plus years. The entire staff is so nice and helpful, and I really enjoy talking with Caitlyn, Paige, and Jennifer. They are the best.”
Many players also said they admire the “innovative mindset” of Ice Den president Marcy Fileccia and the Ice Den management team and their willingness to give new ideas a shot.
Brad Michaelson noted that playing 50+ hockey is a boon as it allows older players to skate with a group that is inclusive and accommodating.
“There are no expectations regarding a player’s ability – just that they love the sport and have a good attitude,” Michaelson said. “It’s also good for the mind and your body. It’s always a good time when you get to play hockey with a good group of people.
“I like the fact that there are no referees or scorekeepers – the open hockey concept. Everyone skates hard but they don’t take it too seriously. There are leagues for that. I also like the schedule. The fact that it happens on the same day and time every week and that it’s usually filled with a great group of players makes it easy to plan for. I’ve never been disappointed by a Wednesday 50+ skate.”
Still, at the end of the day, hockey continues to be the sport of choice for those playing 50+ Adult Open Hockey in Scottsdale.
“Well, I have had both hips replaced and a knee replaced due to other sports injuries, but can still play at age 61,” said Martucci. “Can’t run, or throw a ball, but playing hockey is something you can still do as you get old. Love ‘playing’ a physical team sport like hockey. Golf and pickleball is fun, but individual and not that physical.”
Interested players can view the schedule, policies and register to participate online: https://www.icedenscottsdale.com/adult-open-hockey.
— Matt Mackinder
(March 30, 2021)