Street hockey program revived

WEST MILFORD. Close to 40 children ages 4-7 and 8-12 were learning and playing on the asphalt basketball courts at Westbrook Park last month.

| 06 Jun 2024 | 10:56

Youth street hockey is back in West Milford.

Early Friday evenings in May, close to 40 children ages 4-7 and 8-12 wore helmets, pads and gloves with sticks in hand to learn and play street hockey on the asphalt basketball courts at Westbrook Park.

With coaches, parents and friends cheering them on, they gave it their all, showing skill and teamwork and getting great exercise while scoring goals.

“This many kids with parental support show just how popular street hockey can be in West Milford,” said Joe Romano, who ran the program. “The kids are having great fun, learning and making new friends by participating in the program. As we grow street hockey, we also hope to get youth roller hockey going again in the future.”

Romano, a local resident, played varsity ice hockey at West Milford High School from 2001 to 2005.

He was joined in the street hockey program by several fellow alumni and ice hockey players, who coach, provide instruction and help ensure player safety.

“My varsity coach, Steve Frey, also did a great job organizing the roller hockey program years back,” Romano said. “When Dan (the township recreation director Dan Kochakji) reached out to me about getting the program going, we thought this would be a great use of time and an opportunity to bring street hockey back for the kids.

“We’ve had a good showing from ex-players and high school alumni as well as parents. We’re very pleased with participation in our first year.”

Bringing back street hockey was something that Kochakji wanted to do when he started the job four years ago.

“Hockey is a very popular sport, and roller hockey was very popular when played at Hillcrest years ago,” he said. “We have a great group of volunteers, and now with this start, we’re going to see where it goes. It’s exciting and we’re happy to see that the kids now have an opportunity to play hockey.”

Romano thanked the parents, volunteers, Recreation Department and Mayor Michele Dale for helping the program to get started.

“We’re very grateful to be out here with the kids and doing something positive for them and the community,” he said.