Finding the puck in the Truckee-Tahoe area
Hockey might not be Truckee-Tahoe’s biggest winter sport, but it’s popularity is on the rise.
According to the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District, the number of registrants has been increasing for the district’s beginning hockey skills program, but as players advance and need a full-size rink, they have to look beyond the Truckee-Tahoe area.
“It is a popular sport, growing every year,” said Shawn Mitchell, the hockey coach for the district’s program. “It’s more popular with younger kids because of the size of our rink.”
The program coaches players in various age-groups, but the seventh to 12th grade group was canceled this year due to lack of participation, Mitchell said.
The other two age groups have about 36 participants who will learn basic hockey skills and play scrimmage matches.
Mitchell said a full-size hockey rink isn’t in the cards for Truckee, so fans will have to travel out of the area.
“If Reno can’t support a hockey rink, I don’t see how we could,” Mitchell said. “The Reno rink shut down this last year.”
Mitchell said that while the on-mountain rink at Squaw Valley USA was big enough, the cost of running hockey games there was prohibitive. The cost of taking the tram to High Camp and getting on the ice ranges from $13 for youth evening use, to $25 for adult day use.
Savannah Cowley, spokesperson for Squaw Valley USA, said pick-up games took place at High Camp for years, but always had a low turnout.
“We never had more than five people show up, so we just canned the idea,” Cowley said. “I think it’s because it’s at the top of the mountain.”
Mitchell said many athletes resort to going to an ice rink in South Lake Tahoe.
Rob Swain, general manager for the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena, said the rink gets hockey players from all over the region.
“It’s still a fringe sport. It’s not competing with soccer, and it’s still a foreign sport to a lot of people,” Swain said.
He said hockey has been gaining popularity, however, and the youth hockey league at the South Lake Tahoe rink has about four players from the Truckee-Tahoe area.
“They don’t cater to hockey up there (in Truckee-Tahoe). We definitely want to get more from your area,” Swain said.
He said hockey is still relatively new to the area, and truly is competing with other winter sports the Tahoe region has to offer.
“We have teams that play year-round except for winter,” Swain said. “Then skiing and snowboarding become priority.”
Another option for those who want hockey is Skatetown in Roseville, which hosts a variety of youth and adult hockey programs from instruction to traveling leagues.
For more information on the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District hockey program, call 587-7720 or go to http://www.tdrpd.com. For more on the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena, call 542-6262, or go to http://www.recreationintahoe.com. For information on the Roseville rink call (916) 783-8550 or go to skatetown-roseville.com.