Lola Grace Johnston is better than she thought.
The 11 year old stepped into a hockey rink for just the second time on Thursday night, and Johnston still can’t believe she is just as good as the boys. And she is.
“Hockey is not really a girly sport. At first I didn’t want to do this. But I’m having fun, and I’m feeling good playing. This is bringing people together,” said Johnston, a new junior hockey convert for LaGrange.
The youth team is in its third week, and on this night at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center the junior team had 12 fanatics in the rink. There were three coaches and nine players.
One of the players was 6-year-old girl Elena Allen. She got there early just as she did at the practice the week before. Allen can’t wait to start drilling and scrimmaging.
“When she grabs the stick she knows what to do. This is her very first team,” said LaGrange head hockey coach Glenn Cunningham.
Allen has gone from laid back and apprehensive to pretty competitive. She wants to stick her nose in the middle of the action as do most of the junior street hockey players for LaGrange.
The fact that there is no ice and ice skates does not seem to bother them. For these players this is still hockey even with basketball shoes on.
“I’m getting better, and I’m getting in more control of the puck,” said Johnston.
Another hockey stalwart is 8-year-old Bryce Modling. He’s from West Point, but he plays his junior hockey in La- Grange at the recreation center.
“I like playing, and this takes skill. I scored some goals, and I had some fun. I played in two games, and I scored three goals,” said Modling, who could very well be a future Pittsburgh Penguin.
Cunningham is just glad Modling plays on his junior team for now.
“These kids are hungry. They want to play and learn. If you’re having fun do you want to stop?,” said Cunningham.
Probably not. The La-Grange youth hockey team will meet every Thursday night until the middle of August. The team starts practice at 6 p.m. at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center. The welcome mat is out for any local kids who want to be coached in the game of street hockey.