Hockey Heads West
Local rink levels the playing field for island hockey teams.
With 35 years of soccer experience, including a stint playing for the Coca-Cola Kicks of the Hawaii Semi-Pro Soccer League, why did Richard Pentecost make the dramatic transition to the rink, puck and skating world of inline hockey? His children, of course.
Owner of KAPOLEI INLINE HOCKEY ARENAS (KIHA), Pentecost is living a dream, doing his part in developing and enhancing the Leeward sporting community.
“When they were younger I wanted to get my two boys into soccer,” Pentecost. says “They tried it, but didn’t like it at the time, and ended up getting into inline skating and hockey.”
He noticed two things back then. One, his boys were gaining a real knack and skill for the game, and two, the travel teams they played on during tournaments on the mainland were getting demolished, and Pentecost wanted to do something about it.
Before KIHA, the only facilities that hosted inline hockey on O‘ahu were outdoor, concrete rinks in Mililani, Hawaii Kai and Kane‘ohe. They served their purpose, but left players at a major disadvantage when facing mainland opponents who were playing on quality inline surfaces in top-notch arenas.
Seeking to strengthen the inline hockey community in Hawai‘i, Pentecost took a shot investing in the construction and design of a 50,000-square-foot, dual rink, state-of-the-art arena in Kapolei. Although KIHA has been open since April 2010, walking in, one would think they had just had their Hawaiian grand opening blessing the previous weekend.
“As an owner I am very attentive to it being clean and properly maintained,” says Pentecost. “Also, with many windows the arena feels very big. I got the idea from a California rink to line our rinks with window boards. We also have a mezzanine section with a bird’s eye view and snack bar.”
With the vision of getting new and experienced players to their highest potential levels, KIHA is a support system for inline hockey and a facilitator of the sport that’s gained significant traction in the U.S. in the 1960s. A smooth, fluent sport, inline hockey obviously takes after ice hockey regarding rules and regulations, although there are only five players—two forwards, two defensemen and one goalie—per team on the rink at a time.
Known more as a gentlemen’s game, there is no checking, and fighting is rare, and often very short-lived at any level of inline hockey. Also there are no offside regulations keeping the tempo of the game very high.
Utilizing the highest technology of the sport, KIHA constructed each rink with Ice Sport Exxess flooring tiles, which limits friction and heightens wheel grip for greater mobility.
Previously, KIHA offered only two seasons per calendar year for both youth and adult leagues, but due to its popularity, KIHA now offers four seasons, that consists of 10 to 11 weeks per season including playoffs.
For players who have experience, or know the basics of stick handling and skating, they may join a team at any time. For adults who have little to no experience, KIHA offers instructional lessons on a weekly basis. Instruction comes from top-tier, former professional inline hockey players, like KIHA hockey director Jami Yoder, and are offered at a per-hour cost. Divisions for the adult leagues range from D1 (highest level of experience) to D4 and Over 35.
The youth divisions begin with their 8-under division, followed by 10-under, 12-under, 14-under and capped off at 16-under. Each youth division has one practice day per week and one game day per week. For youths with no experience KIHA offers a free Learn to Play Hockey program each Saturday morning, with equipment provided by the arena.
Players are required to wear the requisite protection for league play which includes skates, shin guards, gloves, elbow pads, helmets with mask (mask optional for adult leagues, although strongly suggested), roller hockey pants and league jersey.
It has only been a few short years, but the evidence of Pentecost’s vision of helping to develop Hawai‘i’s inline hockey players for national competition is paying off—instead of taking beatings, the kids are bringing home trophies from mainland tournaments like Northern American Roller Hockey Championship (NARHS) series, Tournaments of Roller Hockey Series (TORHS) and AAU Junior Olympics tournament.
Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas (KIHA) | 1057 ‘Opakapaka St. (808) 682-5441 | www.kihawaii.com