Those weekend street hockey games so popular last spring on the Payson High School outdoor basketball courts had to be halted while construction projects on the campus were being completed.
But now, the pick-up games have resumed. They are played at 2 p.m. each Saturday on the PHS courts and anyone interested is welcome to play.
Among those to spearhead the games last spring and jump-start them again a few weeks ago is 46-year-old Craig Thompson who lauds the clashes as a healthy outlet for young and old alike.
“In a small town like Payson, there is not much for kids to do, which can lead them to trouble. These games can help by giving them something (to participate in),” he said.
“(Street hockey) is one of the hottest sports around.”
Last spring, he called the group of about 10 persons who now meet at 2 p.m. each Saturday to play, “almost like a family,” and promises that those who turn out to play will “soon be hooked on the sport.”
John Lake, pastor of the Church on Randall Place in Pine, played a year ago and has resumed his participation now that the games have returned.
“We want more (players) to come out, and we don’t care about age — everyone who tries will really enjoy (the sport),” he said.
Lake’s interest in the sport was piqued as a youngster growing up in Phoenix playing both ice and street hockey.
“I grew up in the sport and began playing it pretty competitively in junior high and on through college,” he said.
The weekly hockey games last about two hours and are comprised of two teams chosen “by throwing our sticks in a pile and then picking them out to choose the teams.”
The teams then clash under most of the rules that govern ice hockey, except for a few differences.
The object of the game, however, remains to shoot the puck into the other team’s net.
Thompson promises to newcomers interested in playing, there is plenty of equipment to go around, and the competition — while fair handed — can get spirited, and “there’s nothing like the thrill of scoring your first goal.”
Both Thompson and Lake have issued a public invitation to play, saying those interested should simply show up at game time on Saturdays and be ready for plenty of fun, exercise and good times.
For more information, call Thompson at (928) 595-0200.