Blast Youth Roller Hockey photo
By VINCE TROIA
The hockey talk around these parts may center around ice, but Blast Youth Roller Hockey in Bellevue is hitting the concrete rink for its fall season this month.
Fall registration is now open, with evaluations on Aug. 18 and 20, and opening day set for Sept. 21. Player divisions are ages 7-10, 11-13, and 14-18. Cost is $130.
The co-ed league has been a part of Bellevue youth sports since 1994, and only the flood of 2010 halted play for a season at the rink, which shares space at the Reese Smith Jr. Baseball Fields, 621 McPherson Dr.
News that the Bellevue Ford Ice Center at One Bellevue Place is set to open this fall doesn’t change the mindset of Blast organizers, according to league president Jeff Fox.
“We have always seen Blast as a feeder league to ice hockey,” Fox said. “Kids who’ve never skated can start here and develop before jumping into ice.”
In fact, the Blast website explains the switch from roller to ice hockey is easy since many ice hockey players play roller hockey because it strengthens strong stickhandling, passing, and skating skills.
“Roller hockey is not physical. There’s no checking at all,” said Fox. He said that makes for a fast, free-flowing game where players have greater opportunities to handle the puck and hone their stick-handling and shooting skills.
With only four skaters and a goalie per side, there’s more room to skate as well. Unlike ice hockey, there’s no offsides or icing calls either.
Registration closes on Aug. 30, practices begin the week of Aug. 26. Games are played every Saturday (weather permitting), and the league tournament is set for the weekend of Nov. 16.
Weather does affect Blast’s seasons, Fox acknowledged, and with the advent of the ice center in Bellevue, he does have a wish list priority.
“We would love to have an indoor rink. That’s a dream of ours,” he said. “Actually, we’d be fine with just a roof over the top of the rink.”
Besides skaters, also needed every year are parents, coaches, referees and volunteers.
“The strength of our league depends on the support from our parents,” Fox said. “But there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer too.”
Along with registering, all players, coaches, and referees are required to have an AAU membership. Those AAU fees are $14 youth and $16 adult membership are for a year, so fall season memberships can carry over to the following Spring season.
Registration information and links to AAU can be found online at https://bit.ly/2GTf1Qk.
If you have additional questions about the league, please call (615) 865-0003 or email blast@youthincorporated.