Hockey has been the rage of Juneau for the last couple of years.
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Treadwell Arena's opening in 2003 gave the city another winter recreation spot and, unlike the varying outdoor conditions, Treadwell's ice is always frozen.
Although hockey is a great sport for people of all ages, it isn't the most cost-efficient. The price of play can rise dramatically when factoring in the cost of skates, pads, sticks, helmets and other equipment.
Underprivileged kids had few chances to play until four years ago, when Bill Spear decided to create the Culture Club Hockey Team. The program allows students at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School to a part of a fairly expensive team sport.
"We try to get kids who wouldn't normally play team sports after school," McKenna said coach David McKenna.
The program started "as a way to get Native and non-Native kids who would not typically have access to the new rink due to many reasons," he said.
The team practices every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Its season runs typically from Thanksgiving until spring break in April.
McKenna estimates about 26 players participate.
The program wouldn't work if not for donations from community businesses.
The team doesn't meet at school, so transportation was an issue in the beginning. Royal Caribbean International stepped in to help. Sealaska donated jerseys.
McKenna said numerous volunteers also donated their time to keep the club afloat.
On Wednesday, Culture Club scrimmaged against a mixed group of youth players from the Juneau Douglas Ice Association.
While it was evident the JDIA squad had more experience than Culture Club, the Dzantik'i Heeni team didn't seem to mind.
"Did you see me?" smiley-faced Culture Club player Trevor Smith exulted. "I scored the last goal!"
Thinking of the future, McKenna has discussed getting another hour per week with the kids. Treadwell Arena manager Greg Smith does a great job of coordinating time for the program, he said.
"The Culture Club Hockey Team is one of the better rink programs for kids that wouldn't normally have an opportunity to play hockey," said Smith, who has worked at various rinks in Alaska.
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