Drop-in hockey allows players to get on ice

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— Hockey is a hard habit to shake.

"It's an addiction," Joey Colombo said. "I got sucked in. It's so much fun."

Colombo picked up a stick four years ago, and if it weren't for Howelsen Ice Arena's commitment to the adult hockey community in Steamboat Springs, he would be hard-pressed to find somewhere else to slap it around.

Between drop-in hockey and a weekly league game on Sunday nights, Colombo said he is usually on the ice several times a week. The bonus part about drop-in hockey at Howelsen is seeing other friends while getting a great midday workout.

"If it wasn't for drop-in hockey, I wouldn't get any better," Colombo said.

Karen Post doesn't frequent drop-in hockey as often as Colombo. Friday's visit for the Chix with Stix team member represented one of the couple times a month she can actually get to the rink for some recreational play.

With her Chix team, Post is on the ice four times a week and competing around the state on weekends, but playing drop-in hockey is almost an escape to her childhood.

Post began playing hockey in the fifth grade, but there were no girls' teams, so she grew up competing against boys. It didn't bother her then and it doesn't bother her now.

The majority of adults that participate in Howelsen's drop-in days are male, but women are strongly encouraged to play.

"It's a blast to come out and practice," Post said. "It's good exercise. When the mountain isn't open, you have to do something."

Drop-in hockey times at Howelsen are offered Monday through Saturday with different levels allowed on the ice at various times.

Levels C, D and E have scheduled drop-in times from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Levels A, B and C can play from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.

All levels are welcome to play on Saturday evenings from 9 to 10:30 p.m., while Thursdays are reserved as Stick and Puck sessions for all adult levels.

The Stick and Puck session from 1:45 to 3:15 p.m. is strictly for skill development and no games are played.

Luke Keith, assistant rink manager at Howelsen, said the ice arena was looking for something to fill its midday time slots, and adult hockey has been a perfect fit. He said the atmosphere during drop-in hockey is like an organized pond game minus the below-zero temperatures.

Howelsen requires a Hockey Equipment Certification Council-approved helmet, with a helmet strap fastened, as well as elbow pads, shin pads, hockey gloves and hockey pants or girdle/cover.

The cost to participate in a single drop-in session is $8.50, but a punch card good for 10 visits can be purchased for $75.

The fee will be waived for goalies, however, to offset the cost of their equipment. Howelsen has a set of goalie gear for those interested that don't have their own set.

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