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Pickup hockey hits ice in Lewis County

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LOWVILLE — In what people may recall as one of the first snowstorms of the season, 10 men flocked to the Lewis County Fairgrounds for a game of pickup hockey.

“The storms normally do not keep many from driving 45 minutes to an hour to come play in Lowville,” said Jamie Thibodeau, a veteran member of the Lowville Men’s Hockey League.

The league has been in existence for a number of years, at best estimate 20, according to Lewis County Amateur Hockey Association President Tanya Roy. Although Thibodeau speculated men had been playing pick-up hockey locally for a number of years prior to the construction of the Bostwick Street ice rink.

“They used to play up by the tennis courts and then the Fairgrounds let them set up boards in here and they got a chiller,” he said.

Lowville is not the only location in Northern New York to have a men’s pickup league. Mr. Thibodeau and fellow player Nate Lyndaker said pickup games are also played in Watertown. While Croghan and Harrisville each has an outdoor ice rink, to the men’s knowledge there is no other league in Lewis County. The other ice rinks do not have chillers like Lowville, and their success ultimately depends on the weather.

Nothing seems to stop these guys, especially the cold. With temperatures below zero Dec. 16, a fair number of men showed up.

Membership is open to any man over the age of 16. There had been interest in forming a women’s league last year, but it did not get off the ground this year.

A youth pickup hockey league will kick off this year and is open to children ages 10 to 15. Games will be held Wednesdays beginning Jan. 8.

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