Local hockey team pushing to bring ice rink back to the capital city
BATON ROUGE- Ice hockey may be uncommon in South Louisiana, but, for the few people that enjoy it, finding a place to practice is a challenge.
Ethan Webb enjoys the explosive, non-stop nature of hockey.
“I really started playing because my dad was playing an NHL video game,” Webb said. “And I was like, ‘Man, I think I could do that.’”
Since then, the LSU freshman has played hockey for more than a decade.
Webb uses his time on the rink to clear his mind.
“You have a bad day, you go to the rink,” Webb said. “Maybe that practice automatically can fix a bad day.”
But, there’s a penalty of sorts for Webb.
While most athletes just have to travel a few minutes to enjoy their sport, Webb has to travel over 60 miles to hit the ice.
Since Leo’s Iceland in Baton Rouge closed in 2018, the Baton Rouge United Hockey Association teams travel to Lafayette more than 15 times every season.
“I'm here three times a week,” Webb said. “So going back and forth round trip is not, especially on school nights, it's not ideal.”
The commute is also not ideal for Webb’s 50 teammates.
“It’s a bunch of Baton Rouge guys,” Webb said. “Most of the guys that played BRUHA there will travel down here.”
However, a local rink could be in the future for the team.
“This is actually something that we've discussed more recently at the River Center, because we have been working on seeing if a professional sports team coming in would be something to help sustain the building year round,” said River Center Sales and Marketing Manager, Alysia Guin.
If the success of the River Center’s seasonal ice skating rink is any indication, there could be some year-round interest in the area.
“Especially with Leo's closing, the popularity has ramped up to a level that we couldn't have even expected,” Guin said.
In the meantime, when the puck drops on the rink, the commute is far from Webb’s mind.
“I think the people here and the game itself really makes it worth it to come out and play,” Webb said.
Webb hopes to bring hockey closer to home by starting a hockey club at LSU.
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