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Adult Hockey: Good Workout And a Bunch of Good Skates; [FINAL Edition]
Karl Hente. The Washington Post (pre-1997 Fulltext). Washington, D.C.: Oct 7, 1990. pg. c.19
Full Text (623 words)
Copyright The Washington Post Company Oct 7, 1990
Each Tuesday and Friday, a group of local professionals, college students and just plain hockey fans forsake their lunch breaks, instead congregating on the ice rink at Mount Vernon Recreation Center in Alexandria. Why? The Adult Lunchtime Hockey league, or, in the words of creator Bruce Peters, "pickup hockey."
The participants may be amateurs, but the skill level is anything but. These men and women, taking part in drills, have mastered the fundamentals of skating, passing, shooting and stick handling. Following warm-ups, they scrimmage with substitutes entering at two-minute intervals.
"I look at this program as a sort of coping mechanism," Peters said. "There are constructive and destructive ways to deal with stress. When you have a rough morning, this is a great outlet at lunchtime."
The program's uniqueness lies in its time frame, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each Tuesday and Friday. Peters started it in the summer of 1989 on his own, before the Fairfax County Department of Recreation took it over last January. Twenty-seven players came out for the inaugural scrimmage Aug. 31. Yet, because of the center's already-overloaded schedule of events, lunchtime hockey can only take place two days a week.
"We also have public skating sessions, group lessons, skating clubs and even speed skaters," said Nancy Kapinos, assistant rink manager and hockey coordinator. Coupled with the Washington Capitals and George Mason's use of the facility for practice and games during the winter, it's difficult enough to have even two days a week on the ice.
But Peters believes that a lunch break is the ideal time for such a session. "Late night hockey is difficult for people who work during the day," he said. "Besides, you can purge your guilt from overeating at lunch."
There's no room for guilt after this workout. While some of the players on the ice plod along, looking to enhance their fundamentals-or just their balance-others glide by, making crisp passes and launching slap shots that whizz by the goaltender.
But the high skill level of some participants should not be a deterrent to anyone who wants to come out, Peters insists.
"With a workout like this," Peters jokes, "in another 30 years, I'll be ready for the Caps."
Terry Hitchcock may take a bit longer than that. A security guard from hockeyless Arkansas, he moved to the area several years ago and became a Capitals fan. Now he emulates them. Sort of.
"Last year was the first time I ever played," Hitchcock said. "I slide around a lot now, but I'm improving. You hear most players starting when they were 3; I started at 28."
Peters, president of Fun Flight Inc. of Alexandria, a company that sells recreational aircraft and teaches you how to operate them, played right wing and defense for four years at George Washington. After graduating in 1984, he coached in the Northern Virginia Hockey League in 1987, and never lost his love for the sport.
He even discovered comparisons between his career in the air and his hobby on the ice. "In aviation how well you do is based on how you master the fundamental skills," Peters said. "Hockey games are the same. They are not won by phenomenal moves, but they're lost on lack of fundamentals.
"I just look at it as a great release," he said. "We try and teach the basics and it's competitive, but all as a diversion."
You can play Adult Lunchtime Hockey at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center Tuesdays and Fridays beginning at 11 a.m. Players must bring their own equipment, including full face masks.
Each session costs $8, payable at the door. Anyone over the age of 16 is welcome to participate. For more information, call Nancy Kapinos at (703) 768-3222.
Hockey jockeys; Love of the sport inspires local amateurs
BYLINE: Anthony Rankins; SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
SECTION: Part D; SPORTS; Pg. D7
LENGTH: 659 words
Not everyone eats at lunchtime. Some people shop, others pay bills. For a few Northern Virginia professionals, midday is the preferred time for practicing wrist shots, slap shots and general stick-handling.
Bruce Peters started Mount Vernon Ice Hockey one year ago, and on Tuesdays and Fridays at 12:45 p.m., anywhere from nine to 20 players meet at the Mount Vernon Ice Rink to practice fundamentals and face-off in a short scrimmage.
"The purpose of the group is to improve skills," said the 27- year-old Peters, who is the owner of Fun Flights, Inc. "When I played pickup hockey, we never worked on skills and fundamentals. Your skills pretty much remained the same from game to game. There were a lot of guys who said, 'Hey, we'd like to do something to better our game.' "
The players' backgrounds vary as much as their skill levels. Their ranks include a Canadian who dreams of someday reaching the National Hockey League, a fireman, and a 51-year-old research physicist who became interested in playing after serving as assistant coach on his son's hockey team.
"I started skating when I was 5, and I'm 22 now," said Scott Carrvellow, a native of Kingston, Ontario. "I don't think I'll ever make the NHL. My size isa factor. I'm only 5-9."
Carrvellow is presently good enough to practice with the Baltimore Skipjacks, the Washington Capitals' affiliate in the American Hockey League. He makes enough money roofing during the spring and summer to concentrate on hockey during fall and winter. He says that working out with the Mount Vernon group has improved his game.
"This gives me the chance to work on stuff I couldn't work on in a game. It also gives me exercise and a chance to help others," said Carrvellow, who added that his passing skills have improved noticeably.
Not every participant in Mount Vernon Ice Hockey is a dreamer. Jack Peckham's hockey career peaked 25 years ago when he played in the state championships of the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association.
"It's been all downhill since then. I'm just a has-been now," said Peckham, 39, a journalist with Capitol Publications. "This is just a nice break from work."
Peckham, who has skated since age 3 and also played in amateur leagues in Ontario, now plays with a team called the Bulls of Hockey North America, an intermediate league.
"It's fair to mediocre competition," he said. "It's for players who are too old to keep up with the younger guys."
Despite the varying reasons the players have for showing up around lunchtime twice a week, Peters is content that the club is fulfilling its purpose.
"I've seen astounding progress in some people. I've seen people come in at a very raw level, and now they are able to play competitively in some leagues," said Peters, who, along with Carrvellow, appears to be one of the swiftest skaters and best stickhandlers of the pack.
"I can say for anybody who already skates competitively, if they come out with us, this will really help their game."
One of the skaters Peters cites for great improvement is gray- haired David Griscom, who treks to Mount Vernon from his job at the Naval Research Laboratory.
"He came in here having never really played hockey," Peters said, "and he's improved his skating and his stick-handling."
Griscom admits to skating a bit while attending graduate school at Brown University.
"I had never played any sport in my life," says Griscom, "and I thought I'd give it a try, after being an assistant coach on my son's team."
And Peters, who played for his high school team and has skated for 13 years, says he may return to competitive hockey next fall if his schedule allows. Presently, the midday session appeals to him, as it does to Griscom and Peckham.
"It's a great stress release," Peters said. "You feel good and refreshed going back to work. But I do figure if I keep it up twice a week I'll be ready for the NHL by the time I'm 65."
GRAPHIC: Photo, John Summers, Chris Sentimore, Jack Peckham, Scott Carrvellow and Bruce Peters (from left, top photo) develop their hockey skills twice a week at Mount Vernon Ice Rink in a program started by Peters (bottom photo)., By Joseph Silverman / The Washington Times
Copyright 1989 The Washington Times LLC All Rights Reserved