In-line skating keeps ice hockey players in shape

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— Year-round ice hockey in Steamboat Springs? Well, maybe not yet.

But that hasn't stopped Steamboat Springs player Bjorn Lickteig from playing the game he loves long after the ice at Howelsen Hill has melted away for the summer.

Lickteig, a 11-year-old Peewee with the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association, is just one of several players who showed up Monday to extend their season with the Steamboat Roller Hockey League.

"I've done it for the last three or four years," Lickteig said. "I was playing hockey and I liked to Rollerblade, so I thought it might be fun."

Ted Hoffman opened the local camps and leagues four years ago and ran the operations from the Steamboat Ski Area's remote parking lot.

This year Hoffman will continue to run the camps and leagues. However, he has moved into town and is now located at the Howelsen Ice Arena parking lot. His portable rink borders have found a new home on the freshly paved portion of the parking lot located along side the building.

"The surface is great right now," Hoffman said. "It's brand new and it's really smooth."

Hoffman's program, which began on Monday, will run for the next eight weeks at his new location.

The youth programs will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Hoffman said he already has close to 80 skaters registered for the summer, but still has space for about 10 more.

The Mites (8-and-under) group meets at 8 a.m., the Squirts (9- and 10-year-old) division skates from 9 to 10 a.m. and the Peewee (11- and 12-year-old) skaters are on the surface from 10-11 a.m.

The Bantams (14-and-under) group meets at night from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Howelsen.

"I've been doing this for the last four years and we have a pretty established program," Hoffman said. "My goal when I started was to promote the overall growth of hockey and draw some younger kids into the sport. I think I've done a pretty good job at reaching those goals."

Hoffman said his summer program is designed to be a little less intimidating than the SSYHA's winter program. It's a chance for young skaters to come out and experience hockey with a little less pressure and fewer skaters than the winter programs.

This doesn't mean the programs are not designed to be competitive, however. Each week, the camps run the skaters through drills in the Monday session. The Wednesday session is reserved for games.

Hoffman said this year he will host an in-line hockey tournament at Howelsen for the young skaters.

"I'm really excited about the tournament," Hoffman said. "We haven't had a real in-line event since Triple Crown stopped coming a few years ago."

The tournament is scheduled for Aug. 5 and is expected to bring teams from Avon, Eagle, Vail and the Front Range.

"I'm hoping for eight to 10 teams," Hoffman said.

In the past, the tournament had been held in the Vail area. But this year Hoffman has been able to bring the program to Steamboat.

For more information contact Hoffman at 871-0972 or stop by the Howelsen Ice Rink on Monday or Wednesday morning.

To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail him at jrussell@amigo.net

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