El Paso — In approximately 50 degree temperature, their breath escapes through their mouths as wisps of smoke rising from a fire; hockey fans huddle together for warmth. Suddenly with a burst of energy, and their blood beginning to boil when they stand in anticipation, watching as the puck goes swoosh across the ice and into the net.
Excitement fills the crowd as they cheer for their team playing at the El Paso Rhinos Ice Arena, Feb. 19.
Two teams battled it out, Iron Hockey West and Iron Hockey East, while participating in the El Paso Hockey Adult Recreation League.
“We play each other twice [during the league]” said Lt. Col. Alan McKewan, captain for Iron West and general manager for both teams “We decided to make this [game] more competitive.”
McKewan spearheaded Iron Hockey last year for Soldiers at Fort Bliss to play hockey together. The team has since grown to all members of Team Bliss including civilians.
This is the second year that Iron Hockey participated in the league but the first time they had two teams.
“This year we had a lot more interest, so we were able to form two teams,” said McKewan. “Four teams play in the league and two are Army teams.”
As the night continued and the game progressed, Iron West was victorious with a 6-1 score after the third period.
“This was a great game between two competitive teams,” said. Col. David Hamilton, 212th Fires Brigade commander and Iron East captain. “Today we showed the unity that is Team Bliss. There are lots of players on Fort Bliss, and we saw lots of talent.”
One talented teammate is 2nd Lt. Gretchen Zilka, platoon leader at 15th Sustainment Brigade. She grew up in Rochester, Minn., and has played hockey since she was young.
“I love Iron Hockey,” Zilka said. “It’s competitive but it’s a good pace that keeps it fun. This is my first year in the league; I just arrived [to Fort Bliss] in November .”
Zilka also said Iron Hockey is a great bonding experience and good physical training.
“It’s just a great way to have people from Fort Bliss and the surrounding area get a good workout and compete in the local community,” said McKewan. “It’s a lot of fun.”
“This is a great tradition to start,” Zilka said. “The Army’s all about traditions and this is one more tradition [for us] to keep going.”
For more information, email Iron.Hockey@yahoo.com .