Hockey staying alive in Big Country

Hockey staying alive in Big Country

ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) -  Texas is synonymous with a lot of things, hockey isn't one them, but the saying goes, "if you build it, he will come."
 
It's Field of Dreams, meets The Sandlot, meets The Mighty Ducks.
It's hockey and it's right here in Abilene.
 
"Shocked, yeah it's West Texas so it's definitely a surprise, just to see a rink in Texas is wild," Ben Horansky, a Key City Hockey Association adult league player said.
 
Everyone knows hockey is big up north, but Texas played a big role in the sport's migration south. Once the Dallas Stars arrived from Minnesota in the 90s the sport began to spread across the state.
 
"We had a youth hockey league that played in the ice rink at the Taylor County Colosseum back when the Abilene Aviators were in town; those were good years, that was a lot of fun. Real ice and real ice hockey to play," Karl "Fish" Fischbach  first KCHA coach said.
 
The semi-pro team soon folded though and the indoor ice was melted down and never seen again; but what lived on was the game.
 
"We formed the Key City Hockey Association and built the rink," Fischbach explained.
 
Josh Hamaty is now the assistant league director, but said he remembers the beginning of Key City Hockey from when he was a kid.
 
"I'm the youngest of three brothers, they were just like we want to play hockey...My parents were like 'well we're doing hockey.'" Hamaty recalls.
 
However, as time passed, players who were plenty became few, and some things that should not have been forgotten were lost.
 
"It's sad because a lot of people in Abilene don't know about it or they don't want to give it a chance because they would rather have their kid in football or something," Ana Martinez said.
 
The Key City Roller Hockey League has had its ups and downs, but the league and its players continue to lace up the skates and push forward.
 
"It's unique you have a lot of kids out there...and you get them on a pair of skates and just like any sport you fall in love with it," head referee Johnathan Spencer said.
 
On Monday nights, the game comes alive with all the speed, hitting, and scoring that makes up the miraculous game of hockey.
 
"I think once we get the word out about this people are going to start coming out in flocks," adult league player Kevin Smith said.
 
So, while they might not have the frozen ponds like our neighbors up north, at least they don't have to plow over a corn field or find a Big Country Sandlot to enjoy the game they love.
 
"All they want to do is try to get them a goal before the end of the game."
 
Practices for the spring season begin Saturday morning , February 9, 2018, but if you still want to sign up, visit the Key City Hockey Association facebook page.

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