Brief history

This is a brief history of The Floor Hockey Group and Monday night floor hockey.

Dear Floor Hockey Fans,

If you moved to California from the East or Midwest or Canada and you thought forget it, my hockey life is over, all I’ll be able to do is watch the NHL but never play again, think again.  We have Monday night floor hockey right here in Sacramento.  You need not give up your love of the game.

In the 1840s gold was discovered and thousands came to California to make their fortune.  In March, 2006 the Floor Hockey Group began playing Monday night floor hockey.  We had found our own gold and just needed to share it; the old Jewish Federation of Sacramento, our birth place and our home for the first 3 1/2 years or so.  The Jewish Federation campus was great; about 10 buildings, mostly school type, with an old basketball court with the narrow hardwood floor that we cleaned once a quarter.  There was even a haunted house although we were scared and stayed out of there.  We had the master key and could have played all night.  For a couple of years Wally, the cleanup guy, was there at least at the start of our games.  The gate locked behind us at about 7:30 and kept us all safe.  There were even a few nights when we had happy hour before floor hockey.  Ever played after a beer or a margarita?

Back then it was a “suggested donation” of $5 per player per night.  The court was relatively small and 5 players per team at a time was the max.  Any more felt crowded.  In the summer we had watermelon breaks with organic watermelon from the Davis Food Co-op (at no extra cost).  We played through the year in all conditions.  The gym had fans but no heat and no AC.  We didn’t need it anyway.  We were roughing it, like adventurers in the wilderness, just us against the elements and the bright orange plastic puck.

The Jewish Federation sold its campus after a prolonged delay in around October, 2009.  There was a garage sale and hundreds of books on Judaica available to those who wanted them.  Lots of paper towel dispensers and as many old phones and dry erase boards as you could want.  The haunted house had been boarded up and then broken into.  There were treasures in there and only a few of them were discovered.

We had been talking for months about finding a new place to play.  Some of us had asked about other spots in Sacramento but nothing had turned up.  Then a new search of the web brought up the Samuel Pannell Community Center, owned by the City of Sacramento.  Laura Bjornsen, the Center’s Director, cut us a heck of a deal.  First we had a 2 or 3 month schedule to see how we liked it and if they liked us.  We liked it a lot and they liked us, so we made a long term deal.  Now the Floor Hockey Group has a 12 month schedule at the Pannell Center.  They even accommodate us by letting us play on the Tuesdays when Monday is a holiday.  We are the only ones there on Tuesdays!

Along with a change in venue came a change in technology.  The old orange plastic pucks behaved very erratically on the rubber tile floor at the Pannell Center.  They would get up and roll, changing direction.  It was hard to send or receive a pass.  Stickhandling was a lot harder.  This is where the Pro Felt puck (TM of Mallory Owen of Canada) came in.  We had actually bought a few of the Pro Felt pucks when we were still in the Jewish Federation but had never had a reason to use them.  We found that they glided smoothly and mostly flat on the rubber tile floors of the Pannell Center.  After playing with them once, probably our third night there (the first was December 9, 2009) the decision was made.  The orange plastic puck was out and the Pro Felt puck was in.  We have never looked back.

What the Pro Felt puck lacks in visibility it more than makes up for in performance.  Who cares if you can’t see it?  It’s the same for both teams.  But send it across the floor and it’s like an NHL puck on ice; it just glides.  Being lightweight  the felt puck is less likely to hurt you, although in the wrong place anything can.

We still have a remarkable safety record.  I encourage everybody to warm up before playing as this reduces your chance of injury.  The No Pushing rule and the good nature of our players are the main reasons for the safety in our game.  A couple of other safety related rules; keep the blade of your stick below your waist level (yes it’s still possible to whack somebody’s shins ) and try to keep your stick off the other players’ shins.  I wear and recommend wearing shin guards and some kind of gloves to protect your hands.  Getting hit on the back of your hand hurts cuz there is no padding there.

For playing goalie you can bring whatever equipment you want.  Nobody has worn a face mask to date.  Our rule to protect the goalie’s fingers is that when the goalie is reaching for the puck, even if he or she does not have it, you have to stopping swinging at it.

That’s about it.  You will have a great workout and a lot of fun with The Floor Hockey Group.  See you out on the court.

July 7, 2011

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