"At first, some of our friends thought hockey is just a bunch of goons getting busted up," he said. "Some of them don't think it's a skilled game, but it is. First you have to learn how to skate. Then you gotta have speed, balance, stick-handling skill. Not everyone can do it."
Paul Rausch, is another Wings player who loves his hockey, but needs to be in shape for work at the University of Hawaii's Korean Studies department. "There's no other sport like it. It's a good, fun game, but we try to discourage really rough play," Rausch said. "We haven't always had the best role models, though."
"It's an emotional, aggressive game. You skate hard for a full 60 minutes," Perel said. "At the drop of a hat, tempers can flare and then you have eruptions of fighting. The idea is to limit that, and that's why we play noncontact."
To introduce potential players to the sport, the Ice Palace offers a 10-week "Learn to Play" program where people can start from square one --learning how to skate. Perel said by the end of the summer, participants ages 18 and over are eligible to play on one of the eight teams in either the "A" or "B" leagues.
Two seasons -- from September through Christmas, and from January through Memorial Day -- keep the players' skills and skates sharpened. During the summer months there are pick-up games. Although the Ice Palace provides the rink, the referees and the puck, players must have their own protective equipment and sticks.
"USA Hockey, the governing body of all amateur hockey in the United States provides the standardized rule book, some insurance, referee training and guidance on how to structure the league," Perel said. There is also a youth league for 5 to 17-year-olds.
Games generally are played after the general public skating sessions are over, later in the evening.
Interest in local hockey has grown since Beck began the league from scratch in 1984. "We have more people who want to play youth hockey than we can fit," Beck said. "I think it's because roller hockey's popularity is snowballing like crazy."
"We've been seeing a lot more local people coming out there," Perel said. "A lot of younger boys are coming in to the youth league and then they're moving onto the adult league."
The Lewis brothers are good examples of local kids who kept with it and now are ambassadors of the sport to their friends and family. Justin Lewis said that after some of his friends have gone down to the Ice Palace to watch the games, they have changed their tune about goons-on-ice.
"Now a lot of them think it's pretty neat," he said. "Me and my brother are like ice hockey educators to our friends."