Sunday Evening Games Become a Rite of Summer at Leland Park Rink
Many players share a common bond: WMHS.
The puck thwacks against the boards, then a hockey stick. A defenseman passes it forward to a teammate and action moves toward the other goal. Or a forward takes a pass and fires on goal.
Most of the players are wearing shorts, T-shirts and sneakers. The goalies add leg pads, helmets and masks.
No ice in sight.
A group of mainly 20-somethings, many 2007 graduates of Woburn Memorial High School, gather every Sunday evening from about 5 to 8 o’clock to play hockey at the outdoor rink at Leland Park. They started to play every week about two months ago, according to the group. Now they’re looking to join a league elsewhere. They knew about the rink, some said, because they used to play soccer there. They picked Sundays to play because people are usually available then.
Mike Walsh, one of Sunday’s goalies, grew up playing hockey, he told Woburn Patch during one of the frequent water breaks Sunday evening. He hadn’t played, he said, since he injured his knee in high school.
Justin Lindahl played baseball and ran track in high school. He also used to play street hockey with friends.
Brothers Evan and Owen Paradise both play with the Sunday evening group. Owen is a 10th grader at Woburn Memorial High School. He plays on the high school soccer team and golfs on his own.
Dan Rossin comes from Lowell, where he’s a student at UMass—Lowell, to play with the group. An ’06 graduate of Bedford High School, he was “just in marching band” in high school. He found out about the group by word of mouth.
“We needed to do something active,” said Rossin, who said he also golfs a lot. “This is a good way to be active.” And it doesn’t cost much.
The players change from week to week, according to the group. Some weeks they have reserves; some weeks they play four-on-four or even three-on-three.
They play regardless of the temperature.
Between 6 and 7 p.m. this past Sunday evening, two teams of six each played a number of games, calling a game quits when they agreed to, often before a break for water. The scores were pretty close, within a goal or two. No clocks marked time. At one point, the players redistributed themselves onto two teams.
The rink surface is good, according to one of the players, but the goal nets are loose.
Pucks—in this case, bright orange balls—bounced outside the boards, out of easy reach of the players. No more pucks? Play stopped. Then the players headed out of the rink to shag the flyaway ball/pucks.
As the sun began to set, players’ shadows led them along one side of the boards.
They were going to quit, several players said, when it got too dark, with no lights, to see the puck.
The only rule to use the rink, according to city Recreation Director Rory Lindstrom, is that you pick up your own trash. The Rec Department sometimes uses the facility during the day, as for a floor hockey clinic last week, she said. To use the rink at a specific time, call the Rec Department. The rink surface was redone last summer, Lindstrom noted.