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Hockey on a roll in Ripon

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Hockey on a roll in Ripon

Daniel Costa, arena owner, checks out rental equipment that is available for $10. It was all purchased new at the opening of the Ripon Powerplay Sports Arena. In high school, Costa served as pitc...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin/


POSTED January 6, 2009 12:24 a.m.
RIPON — Roller hockey is drawing players and fans from up and down the Northern San Joaquin Valley to Ripon.
Powerplay Sports Arena on the southern outskirts of town also has a small cafe at rink-side so fans can take in the action and enjoy lunch or dinner. You can sit at tables right next to the Plexiglas that protects the audience from an errant puck. There are no alcoholic beverages served.
The state-of-the art facility is drawing all ages from kids as young as 8 to competitors in their 40s and 50s.
In the evenings there is scheduled league play.  Monday night was the season opener with the “Smoke Showing” firemen’s team playing the rebels — a coed competing team.  One of the staff members said some of the women on the Rebels are more than able to “smoke” the guys on the other team.
Owner Daniel Costa said his facility is a mixture of entertainment and sportsmanship where the parents get to come and watch the competition.  And it’s great outlet for rambunctious kids, he added.
“The cost is a Kryptonite for us — not too many people can buy all new gear costing $150 to $300,” he said.  And that is a bottom line cost figure, he noted.  It can cost much more for custom equipment.
But for those wanting to give the sport a try, the rink provides everything but the skates for a $10 rental fee.

Costa has been hooked since 8
Costa was 8 years old when he first got involved in skating with a school friend, Nick Pole, in Modesto.  Costa and Cameron Dinnell, another friend he knew early on, are both operating the Ripon facility.  Cameron is the general manager.
Costa said the success rates for roller hockey arenas in the valley have been very low as the ones in Modesto and Lathrop have both closed. Ripon is different as it was built from the ground up for one purpose — roller hockey. They are attracting skaters form throughout the region.
The arena last year had four leagues. This season it has six.
When Costa first starrted the sport as an 8-year-old, he would practice in the family garage, he said.  His mother would move the car outside.
He recalled “she would get so mad” because he would hit the puck and miss the net putting holes into the drywall — the garage was the worse for wear as a neighborhood training facility.
Jimmy Hauger, equipment sales manager, had a similar experience at a young age that tested the patience of his mom and grandmother.  He too would use his family’s garage and the driveway to practice with his brother.  They would open the garage door and use the washing machine and dryer for a net.
He said it was neat because you could really hear the report when you put the puck right on target and it went inside the open door of the washer.
Hauger graduated from Sierra High School in 1999 where he played catcher for Coach Jack Thomson — transferring from Manteca High for just that opportunity.  He said his mother always said he picked the most expensive positions in sports.  In high school he played catcher with costly gear and now he plays hockey — also an expensive sport.  And then there was golf when he had the time.
When I was at the arena on Monday it was neat watching firemen practice for their opener Monday night against the coed Rebel’s team.  They have 13 on their “Smoke Showing” team -- firemen from Manteca, Modesto, Foster City, and a sheriff’s deputy from Alameda County.

Rebels mostly a family team
The Rebels’ team members are pretty much a “family team” along with a couple of friends from Manteca and Ripon.
One of the teammates, Sean Timmons of Modesto,  is in education but playing with the firemen.  His wife Becky was at rink-side Monday to watch him practice.
“It’s a great outlet for him,” she said.  He has been on vacation and practices every day, she said. 
Timmons was an avid ice skater in the past.
It was also special to see one dad — an off-duty fireman — with his two kids eating hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Nick Slamon was there with his Colony Oak School fourth grader, Courtney, 9, and his son Zach, 15, a sophomore at Ripon High.  Dad has been skating for about 15 years.
In addition to hockey, Zach is currently in leadership and also plays tennis and varsity soccer.  He is currently on a traveling soccer team with a club out of Turlock.
One of the rookie players asked for an explanation of the penalties in the game. 
“You can go to the ‘sin box’ for two minutes and you feel shame,” he was told.
Manteca firemen Rob Grycel, Ryan Avant and Tony Taberna were going to be in the mix Monday night. 
It was the first for Taberna who was checking out the arena. He normally plays shortstop with a softball team.
“My wife Gina is giving me a hard time — she played ice hockey growing up,” he said.  “It’s going to be a lot of jumping, skipping and falling.”
There are three leagues: copper, silver and gold — in that order of proficiency.  And there are training sessions for those interested between 4 and 5 p.m. in the afternoons.
A professional team is slated to begin using the arena as their home rink next November.  Tryouts for the team will begin as early as February, Costa said.
Leagues are also available for Pee-Wees from 5 to 8 years old and Mites 9-11 years old.  There is also a pro shop and arcade on site. The address is 1043 South Acacia, Ripon, where it intersects with Doak Drive.  The telephone is 599-2479.  You can get a better view of the facility at the website www.riponrollerhockey.com.
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