Adult recreational hockey is a blast! Great exercise and very enjoyable. Here’s a guide to getting started in the Dallas area. Adult rec hockey is almost always non-checking, the guys are professionals with jobs, families, and like keeping their teeth. And hey, what better sport to play when it’s 110 degrees outside, and you get to play in a deep freezer.
Just walk into a rink
Probably the easiest thing to do is just walk into an ice rink nearby and ask how to get started. This is what I did and it was easy. The rinks usually have flyers and can put you in touch with a learn to skate program or team to join. Here is a map of the ice rinks in the Dallas area: http://goo.gl/maps/KqRp7
‘Learn to Play’ classes
Never played hockey before? Don’t even know how to skate? No problem! This is where I started in my late 20s, could barely stand on skates. Every area has a ‘learn to play’ class where you just show up, like a few evenings a week for a few weeks, and you learn the basic skills to start playing and having a blast. Then they usually put you right into an ‘I’ (introductory) level division team with other new players. So you have a good time playing and feel like a haus.
At the time of writing this, here in the Dallas area, the Dr Pepper Stars Arena system is putting on an ‘Anklebenders’ intro to hockey class (see PDF flyer). Their website is undergoing a remodel and doesn’t have the info, so the hockey coordinator said I could put his contact info here: Duane ‘Whip’ Wylie, 972-758-7528 x338, email@example.com. If you don’t get through there, call/email others at the Starscenter. There’s also the Dallas Ice Training Center which may have classes.
There are two main seasons. A full length 20 to 30 game winter season which teams start to form mid Sept, start playing late Oct, and play to early June. Then there’s a 10-15 game short summer which plays from late June to early Oct. Games are usually once a week in the evenings at 8pm or 9pm.
The full winter season is usually $550 to $650 a player for 20 to 30 games (~$20/game). The summer season is about half that. You can expect to spend $500 to $1000 on equipment.
Buy inexpensive skates at first (~$150), you will be getting new ones after a year or two of playing. If you take a learn to play class they’ll give you a list of equipment to buy. Just walk into a local hockey shop and buy bottom-of-the-line gear that fits to start with; trust me, you’ll be upgrading each piece as time goes on. The gear you need is: helmet, shoulder pads, elbow pads, leg/knee pads, pants, gloves, skates, jock pants, white & black jerseys, one pair of hockey socks, a gear bag, and two sticks. Again, if you’re new, just walk into a hockey shop, tell them you’re just getting started and need a basic set up to get started with. I’d recommend Player’s Bench (big dedicate hockey store), Sports Authority, or Play it Again Sports.
Each ice rink typically has a ‘house league’ with a small number of teams that play at just that rink. Then there are larger area leagues that play at multiple rinks. I’d recommend starting at a larger league as they have more divisions of teams so you play with more evenly matched players, they have the introductory ‘I’ level divisions to get started in, and are usually more organized The two larger adult leagues in north Dallas are the Dr Pepper Stars Center league which plays at rinks in Plano, Frisco, McKinney, and Euless. This is the league I play in and play with a team that plays mostly in McKinney (5 min from home). The 2nd largest league is Integrity Hockey / MCHA with some friends playing there.
Other hockey activities
In addition to the main games, each rink has ‘drop-ins’, games where you just show up, pay like a $15 ice fee, and play with whoever else shows up. Not formally organized. Usually a very wide range in skill levels. Also there are ‘stick ‘n pucks’ where it’s open ice time for hockey players to show up in gear and just skate and practice. Then there are the general ‘public skate’ times where the general public shows up to skate only and you can put on your hockey skates and practice your skating. Just check with a close by ice rink’s website for their schedule.
Wrapping it up
There you have it! Hopefully enough to get someone started. Hockey is a great ‘sprinting’ full-body sport. You don’t even have to be ‘into hockey’ to enjoy playing. I don’t watch hockey on TV and rarely attend games, but sure love playing. If you’ve ever skated or played as a kid it’ll come back real fast. About half the people I play with played a little as a kid and are back into the groove in just a couple games. The goalie on my last team was 62 yrs old and loving it. Another teammate was in his late 50s and lost 72 lbs in the first 6 months playing. You don’t have to be in good shape to start either, at least 1/3 the players are of a ’round’ persuasion and ~1/3 ‘average’. If you’re like me and never played as a kid, just thought it may be something you’d enjoy doing, then you’ll have a blast.
p.s. I got started playing in Seattle and also wrote about Adult Rec Hockey in Seattle.