Puck divers make waves on Hurlburt wood

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mareshah Haynes
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Hat tricks, diamonds, snipers and icing may make Hurlburt Airmen think of hockey rather than magicians, jewelry, riflemen and desserts as the base's newest organized sport gets underway.

The Puck Divers, a team of active-duty and retired Hurlburt Airmen who play hockey and dive together, came up with the idea to incorporate roller hockey into Hurlburt's intramural sports program.

"At the beginning of summer we helped finish up the new hockey rink," said Scott Halfacre, a retired security forces member and team captain. "We've made a lot of improvements since then."

The Puck Divers helped the rink, located near the Riptide Fitness Center, meet U.S. hockey regulations by doing things like anchoring the floor boards with spikes, painting all the lines and hanging goal netting.

Since the rink's completion the Puck Divers have been putting it to good use.

"We're out there three to four times a week, every week," said Brian Wendt, 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron and Puck Diver team member. " We've pretty much been the only ones out there, every now and then we'll have someone come in a play a game of drop in hockey with us. Then we came up with the idea of starting a league."

In partnership with the 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron, the Puck Divers recently hosted the South Florida Samurai Squirrels, a semi-professional roller hockey team, for an exhibition game to advertise the team and encourage others to sign up.

"It was a good game," said Wendt, an Okeechobee, Fla., native who has played since he was a child. "We got people out there and people love the game."

"We had a good turn out," Halfacre said. "It could always be better. We had 13 to 14 people sign up."

Halfacre, a Canada native who has returned to the game after a 23-year hiatus, said the league will play 4-on-4, which means each team will need 5-8 players. There are currently 3-4 teams and they're looking to fill the goalie position.

Any Department of Defense identification card holder who is more than 16 years old, qualifies to become a part of the league. Individuals will be responsible for providing their own skates, helmet, gloves, shin guards and elbow pads. Previous hockey experience isn't required.

"We've had a couple of guys who had never ever been on skates before and have been playing for six to eight weeks and are doing incredible well," Halfacre said. "Being out there and mixing skill levels, it helps accelerate the newer players."

While trying to organize a league for Hockey enthusiasts from Hurlburt Field and Elgin Air Force Base, the team has gotten the chance to share the love of the sport with some future Puck Divers.

The current team members have been helping with the youth hockey program as coaches and assistant coaches.

"We've been working a lot with the youth center and have gotten a lot of support from them," Halfacre said. "They've let us come us their rink when it's raining because theirs is covered and ours isn't."

Whether a novice or aficionado, the league's goal is to provide hockey players an opportunity to enjoy the sport in the local area.

" It's fun to go out there and scrimmage, but it's better to have an organized league," Wendt said.

For more information on the Hurlburt hockey league, visit www.hurlburthockeyonline.com.