Members of public who frequent JCube late on weekday nights will be able to catch our very own National Ice Hockey League in action (photo by Darren Ho/VOXSPORTS).
You might have heard your friends talk about the rare Ice Hockey on-goings at JCube on certain nights after their movie rendezvous at the heartland mall. The National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) - the only one of its kind in Singapore - plays late at night on certain days of the week, usually from 9.45PM onwards, a timing way past operational hours of the mall.
Organized by the Singapore Ice Hockey Association (SIHA), the NIHL Winter League plays between September to April, while the Summer League runs from June to July every year. The league has mainly three divisions - divisions I, II and III, with division I being played at the highest level of professionalism. “It helps to cater to the different mix of players we have and to ensure fairness,” says Kodi Kodrowski, president of the SIHA.
Today, there are about 200 to 300 active players in the league - a fair mix of both locals and expatriates. International Ice Hockey Federation also officially recognizes the NIHL played here.
Jim Nolan, a player from the team Scotia, says that playing in the league here makes him feel closer to home. The English teacher at the Singapore Korean International School adds, “When we play here, we play with all sorts of different people - the locals, the expats, all of different age groups and all walks of life. Back home, I usually play with people who are my age. That’s the main difference I feel between playing back in Canada and here.”
More than often, the players find themselves under the watchful eyes of interested passers-by and late night moviegoers in the heartland mall. When asked about the attraction of watching an ongoing match, Debbie Tan - a church worker who happened to pass by the rink and settled to watch the game with her partner, said, “I guess it’s just one of those things that amazes you when you can actually see it in real life. It’s hard to believe that such a winter sport that we could only watch on TV is being played right here in our tropical country.”
Youth Program for Ice Hockey?
So what’s next for Ice Hockey here? Kodi shares that there have been plans to roll out a youth program to educate the teenagers here about Ice Hockey, and hopes that there will be an enthusiastic response from the locals. “Ice Hockey is considered to be one of the more reputable sports in countries where there’s winter, but we would like to make it possible in Singapore as well,” Kodi adds. The program is set to make its debut sometime around this month or the next.
The NIHL Winter League 2012 will be coming to an end soon this month, as teams from Division I will be playing the finals on the night of 26 May 2013. On regular days, the Division I teams would play on Thursday nights from 9.45PM to 11.45PM, while Divisions II and III play from 9.45PM to 12.45AM on Sundays and Mondays respectively. Be sure to make your way down to JCube on these nights to catch the players in action!