Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Never too late to skate — Son’s interest in hockey gets dad on the ice

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Peter Klauder wasn’t completely unfamiliar with hockey before he joined a Tier II Rusty Blades hockey team this winter.

But his prior experience wasn’t exactly extensive.

“I’ve skated on ponds, like three or four times in my life,” he said of his childhood in Ohio. “We played hockey a little bit, maybe. I don’t know if we even had a hockey stick. I remember somebody’s mom playing goalie with a broomstick.”

But when Klauder’s 13-year-old son, Sage, decided he wanted to play hockey last December, Klauder decided to give it a try, too.

“My son, out of the blue, came up and said, ‘I want to play hockey.’ I said, ‘Great. The season’s half over, but let’s go check it out.’”

Sage was able to join a team in the Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association, and Klauder shoveled off a section of the lake they live by for a practice rink.

“We were playing one on one and I was laughing so hard I’d be crying having so much fun,” Klauder said.

His friend, Shorty Lawrence, talked him into joining Rusty Blades, the adult hockey league at the Soldotna Sports Center. Not only did he need to hone his skating skills, but he was fuzzy on hockey in general.

“I was scared to death out there. I really had never played hockey. I didn’t know any of the rules,” he said.

He’s progressed past getting a penalty for standing in the wrong spot. Now he’s on to the finer points of the game, like avoiding collisions.

“Oh, man. I’m really a terrible hockey player, but I suppose I’m getting a little bit better. It’s just so much fun. It’s such a kick. There’s no checking, which is nice. As long as I don’t hurt myself running into things and other people, I’m having a blast,’ he said.

Klauder played soccer in high school and college, and he likes that hockey is similarly filled with action.

“It’s exciting, it’s fast, it’s a real adrenaline rush,” he said. “It’s constant action. There’s no break, there’s no lull, you just go full speed when you’re playing hockey. You go all out, take a quick little break and go all out again.”

Rusty Blades has a Tier I program for advanced players, and Tier II for the more recreational ones. Klauder likes that it isn’t a super competitive environment. He certainly doesn’t get caught up in the team’s record, the length of the season or the scores of recent games.

“Oh boy, all these technical questions,” he said.

Still, hockey now plays a big role in his family’s life in the winter. He and his son weren’t hockey fans before, but they are now. Klauder and Sage watch Brown Bears games, and they both like starting pickup games for practice. Klauder watches Sage’s Bantam games, and said Sage has turned into a good skater — “he can twirl around me,” Klauder said.

“It’s a great, fun thing to go do with my son. I wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t for him,” Klauder said. “It’s made winter for me. It gives me something to do in the winter that’s a lot of fun.”

Anyone with some skating experience — even if it involves neighbors’ mothers and broomsticks — is welcome to give it a try.

“You need to be able to skate a little bit. It is a competitive sport,” Klauder said. “It’s all about being energetic and going after it, but, golly, if you’ve got someone who’s energetic and knows how to skate, you should definitely go for it.”

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