Despite the fact that roller hockey provides a cheap and easily accessible alternative to ice hockey, our number are down in terms of participants across the country.
Roller hockey’s growth has always been tied to the popularity of ice hockey. When the NHL was aggressively expanding to Southern United States, it sparked a tremendous surge of interest in the game. And in those warm weather climates where ice rinks were few and far between, and ice time hard to come by, roller hockey bridged the gap. We provided a reasonable facsimile to the game and even offered some unconventional ways to spice things up.
Remember when ESPN2 aired summer roller hockey here in Southern California? They put NASCAR-type ramps behind the nets so that players could build up speed on the turns and slingshot up “ice.” They also added a two-point line for goals beyond the tops of the circles.
Los Angeles eventually became a roller hockey hotbed. They had the head start of Wayne Gretzky being sold from Edmonton to LA, and when the Ducks and Sharks came to southern California the sport just exploded- and as a result, Southern California has produced several recent NHL Draft picks.
Eventually however, the construction of ice rinks caught up to the interest and players transitioned from sport courts to ice rinks. But I’m here to tell you that roller hockey is not dead! It’s still the easiest and cheapest way to develop your hockey skills. You simply can’t replicate proper shooting motion wearing sneakers. It’s literally the only non-ice way to simulate a skating stride. To take that last point a step further, there are training exercises that you can do in rollerblades that you simply can’t do on skates. Skating uphill for example. And while professional inline hockey doesn’t get the same publicity it once did, there are still lots of highly competitive leagues that you can play in for a fraction of the cost of ice hockey.
At the end of the day, inline hockey is still a great way to train, compete or just have fun!
Resources from the website: http://www.NHLmockDraft.org were used in the creation of this article.