Ice hockey teams make sacrifice for practice

Feb 12, 2000

Bishop Eustace and St. Augustine, the only two sanctioned ice hockey teams in South Jersey, can tell you a lot about persistence and commitment.

Most high school teams that play use school-owned facilities, whether it be the girls' basketball team using the gym or the boys' soccer team scrimmaging on the outdoor athletic fields. Unlike other sports, ice hockey uses off-campus facilities. Bishop Eustace practices and plays its home games at the Flyers Skate Zone in Pennsauken, a mere trip to the other side of town. But for St. Augustine, located in Richland sometimes just making practice can be a trip on its own. The Hermits practice and play at the Hollydell Ice Arena in Washington Township. Not your average Sunday Drive. Especially for some of the younger players.

"We have kids that live in Swedesboro and Mantua that drive all over the place," St. Augustine coach Greg Conicello said. "From driving to school then to the rink for practice then back home. It can be tough.'

"A lot of the older players that can drive usually carpool the others. And when we have away games, the parents usually do the same thing."

It's much of the same for the Bishop Eustace players.

"We have a bus that takes the kids to the rink for practice and back to school,' coach Mike Green said. "But when we have games, there's no bus that returns to the school."

As difficult as it may seem, the amount of practice is not usually enough in preparation for the season. St. Augustine practices twice a week, only usually for about an hour. The same goes for Eustace. Sometimes, there is more time spent traveling to and from than actual ice time.

Despite the travel, the players, coaches, and the parents are committed to play.

Chris Panter covers ice hockey for the Courier-Post.