LEOMINSTER Leominster is the birthplace of organized street hockey and dek hockey, and the Leominster Dek Hockey Center is celebrating a special anniversary. National Tournament.
The tournament began Friday and will run through Sunday. The event is a national competition for participants ages 16 and older, with the majority of players in their mid to late 20s. nationals including squads from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as a group of local teams from Massachusetts, including Leominster. wholesale jerseys from china Although the competition is elite, there is also some parity among the competitors.
“There are really eight teams that could win it,” Leominster Dek Hockey Center owner Chris Housser said. “Some teams have won it in the past pretty regularly, while some are new teams that are younger and are getting involved and improving.”
There is a three game seeding round, then the playoffs guarantee each team a fourth game. Sunday is when the semifinals and championship games take place, and those contests tend to draw larger crowds.
In addition to battle for a title, the event serves as a ranking tournament for future competitions, helping to determine which level of competition the teams enter into. “The semifinal games are competitive with a lot of action. Players in this sport shoot the ball over 100 miles per hour.”
The Leominster Rams have been a mainstay in the tournament for years, and Steve Kendall who coaches Nashoba Regional ice hockey and softball is one of the best defensemen in the sport. Last year at the world championships, Kendall picked up the Most Valuable Defensive Player Award.
During a particularly impressive stretch, the Rams won the national tournament in Leominster in six out of the nine events from 2000 08.
Dek hockey is similar to street hockey in regulations and rink size, however street hockey participants play on tar or concrete, while dek hockey players battle on a plastic surface with the same 160 feet by 80 feet dimensions. Ball hockey is another variation of the sport, but it takes place on dry ice hockey rinks.
Dek hockey has similar rules to ice hockey, however there is no checking and some of the guidelines differ slightly, for instance the center line in dek hockey is the offsides line.
“Dek hockey is street hockey, but it’s played on a module outdoor surface,” Housser said. “It is a plastic surface with grip on the top, so you can play in inclement weather. You use a plastic ball, and a plastic or composite stick, so you have the stick on ice feel. For safety reasons, it’s better with cushioning on the hips, knees, ankles or back; it’s easier to run on this than cement or asphalt.”
Street hockey had a long, unofficial history, with people playing schoolyard and backyard games with worn out ice hockey equipment. Leominster native Ray LeClerc changed the sport by founding organized street hockey in the early 1970s, then in 1974 constructed the Leominster Dek Hockey Center.
LeClerc established a set of rules for the sport which are still in place today, laying the groundwork for national and international tournaments. Through Mylec, a street hockey equipment company he also founded, LeClerc invented the signature orange ball most identified with the sport.
Mylec is still running strong in its Winchendon location, and boasts roller hockey blades and hockey surfaces in its manufacturing line.
“LeClerc tried to promote the game throughout the country with his company,” Housser said. “He was really successful in that, and is the father of our sport. Today the sport is growing every year, worldwide too. (Being the home of the sport), Leominster has generated a lot of good players over time, and I think the community has a lot to be proud of.”
The senior nationals event is one of many tournaments hosted at the facility throughout the year. On Memorial Day weekend, the facility will host one of the more prestigious youth tournaments. http://www.clevelandbrownsjerseys.com There are also tournaments for women and masters division tournaments held at the Leominster site.