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Roller Bees May Be Gone, But Roller Hockey In Utah Lives On

Photo: Jay Stevens, KSL Sports

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – There are no locker rooms for hockey, but there are boards and that is a huge step up from the early days at The Hollywood Connection, which is a leap forward for roller hockey in Utah.

There are huge brick walls behind each net though, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when you drive the net.

Roller hockey in Utah is alive, well and still growing.

Taylorsville Recreation Center and South Davis Recreation Center both have roller hockey rinks. Most of the time they are set up with batting cages or host soccer games, but a few nights a week, there is hockey.

“I’ve always been playing roller hockey,” said Glean Sears, a California native who’s been playing roller hockey in Salt Lake for over 30 years.

He’s gone from converted warehouses to fairgrounds to true roller skating rinks.

In Taylorsville, The Wasatch Roller Hockey League has three divisions. It’s had to overcome the typical hockey league problems – people trying to play without paying and scheduling around soccer games and batting practice.

“I enjoy the game and I love the people,” League Director Onika Wiscombe said.

She said the league is stronger than it has ever been.  They have consistency from their players and officials and now have the support of recreation center management.

For about $100 a season you get 10 games including regular season and playoffs.

The teams I watched play had varying talent levels and even gear. I saw a couple of players without gloves and some head to toe in top of the line gear. The players and the family members in the stands seemed to be having a good time and interacting with each other as friends. It gave the obscure sport a community feel.

Taylorsville plays 4-on-4 with a ball and The Utah Inline Hockey League in Davis County plays 3-on-3 with a puck.

Gone are the days of watching Rich Chernomaz, Paul Kruse, the legendary tandem of James Burdett and Andy Gannon and the rest of the Roller Bees in the Southtowne Mall parking lot.

Also gone is Pro Beach Roller Hockey with their ramped areas behind the net and a 2-point shot line, but roller hockey itself lives on, and as long as you watch out for the big brick wall, you can still have a great time playing roller hockey in Utah.

Utah Puck Report is hosted by hockey insider and former pro goalie, Jay Stevens. From interviews with NHL hall of famers to updates on Utahns in the NFL – you’ll find it all on this podcast. Subscribe wherever you find podcasts for on kslsports.com.