Hockey Fest aims to spread word - Brownsville Herald: Valley

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Hockey Fest aims to spread word

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Posted: Monday, January 6, 2020 10:06 am

McALLEN — Dozens gathered at the McAllen Sports Park Hockey Pavilion on Saturday afternoon to play a little hockey.

Dubbed RGV Hockey Fest 2020, the event was organized by RGV Roller, a new organization aiming to promote hockey in the Valley.

Some participants wore rollerblades as they took shots at goals set at each end of the skating rink. Others without skates ran with hockey sticks in their hands. Many of these individuals wore their favorite hockey jerseys.

Sergio Ibarra, 22, of Edinburg, wore a Boston Bruins jersey as he attempted a few shots.

“I have a love for hockey,” Ibarra said in between shots. “I love watching the game, but I’ve never actually held a stick and hit a puck. So it’s great seeing something like this being held in the Valley and being able to practice this sport that I watch.”

Ibarra credits his love for the game to his friend Nathaniel Mata, president of RGV Roller.

Mata has been a fan of hockey since he was 5 years old and living in California. He said that when he moved to the Valley, his love for hockey came with him.

“The Killer Bees ended up here like a year later, so hockey kind of followed me,” Mata said. “I wasn’t able to play ice hockey. I wasn’t able to do those leagues because it’s just pricey. Now that I’m an adult, I’m finally able to get my own gear. It makes me want to get other people in to it. There’s just so many barriers. We’re just trying to knock down as many barriers, open the doors and let people have another option.”

Saturday’s event started with a free-for-all of sorts. RGV Roller provided hockey sticks and pucks to participants so they could try for the goals. There was also a skills competition, which included a fastest skater competition, a shootout challenge, and a hardest-shot competition. The event also featured a scrimmage of sorts by those more familiar with the game of roller hockey.

“My main goal is to get hockey into more people’s visibility,” Mata said. “It’s an expensive sport, and the main goal is to make it less expensive and more affordable for our region. You can play baseball or basketball for a really low price, and I just really want the same thing going on with hockey. That’s kind of the goal that RGV Roller has.”

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