The Woodstock-based CHILL was established as a non-profit organization in May 2011, holding its inaugural season last spring.
Now in its second season, the CHILL has more than 60 players competing in three co-divisions, each with seven teams — amateur, intermediate and experienced leagues. Players wear in-line skates, or roller blades, as opposed to the skates more familiar to ice hockey.
While the amateur league is meant for those who have never played the game before and want to learn the basics, the experienced league is for adult players with more than 25 years of experience playing some form of hockey.
“You are never too old or too young to join (the) CHILL,” said Matt Hackett, the organization’s hockey director and league coordinator. “We have players that started at 3 and 4 years old that have never skated before, and we have players and coaches with over 20 years of experience in the sport. This program is set up to cater to everyone.”
Hackett, one of the league’s founding members, believes hockey can provide the community with an opportunity to play something that is unique and differs from the more traditional sports in the area.
“Hockey players have strength, endurance, grace, agility and balance,” said Hackett, who has played hockey since he was 5 years old. “There are not many other sports where you can combine all these aspects into one player.”
Hackett also pointed out the many differences between roller hockey and ice hockey.
“Roller hockey differs from ice hockey in that it is a much more free-flowing game,” Hackett said. “There is no offsides and no icing to stop the play of the puck.”
Because only four players and a goalie are allowed on the rink at any time for a team, roller hockey allows for more open space to pass and strike, Hackett said.
“Also, roller hockey does not allow body checking at any age level,” he added. “It is much different than other team sports, such as baseball, basketball, or soccer.”
The uniqueness of the sport is exactly why 8-year-old Lanton Tidwell joined the league this fall.
“He wasn’t really interested in other sports like baseball or basketball,” his mother, Jennifer Tidwell, said. “Then he saw the hockey rink and wanted to check it out. Now, he absolutely loves it. I’ve never seen him so into something before. It is something that you have to come out and see.”
Amateur-league games are played on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-12 p.m., with intermediate- and experienced-league games played Mondays at 7 p.m., at the Greg Stathis Memorial Rink behind the Cherokee Recreation and Parks Authority building in Woodstock.