Ice Hockey In Hawai?i
The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup yesterday—making it the second year in a row the team won the National Hockey League championship. Here in Hawai‘i, ice hockey may be more of a spectator sport for most, but people have been lacing up skates here for decades. And the sport depends on an unusual source for players: the military. HPR Contributing Reporter HJ Mai has more on the story.
Pierre Asselin is an associate professor of history at Hawaii Pacific University and the goaltender of the Stogies hockey team in the Diamond Head division of the Hawaii Adult Hockey League. A Canadian expat who moved to Hawaii 25 years ago, he’s been playing in the league for more than two decades. He says there’s a key link between hockey here and the military.
“A lot of the players in the league are currently serving in the armed forces. It makes the league kind of interesting, but it also makes hockey in Hawaii problematic because these guys are stationed here, for the most part, for three years and then they leave.”
Organized hockey is played at the only ice rink in the state, the Ice Palace Hawai‘i, which opened in 1982.
To make sure the survival of the league is not completely dependent on expats and service members, the rink created a youth program in the late 1990s.
It’s led several players to college hockey on the mainland. The first was Spencer Zaha, who laced up his skates for the Buffalo State Bengals in 1996. No hockey pros yet from the Aloha State, but Zaha says it’s possible.
“It would just take someone who is passionate about the sport and a community who gives them a little bit of support, a little bit of luck. Somebody with that kind of talent to choose hockey as their sport and keep pursuing it, don’t let anything get in there way and make it all the way.”