By Peter Madsen • The Bulletin

For more information about hockey at The Pavilion, visit bendparksandrec.org/ calendar/pavilion

I n the last few minutes of overtime during a recent hockey game at The Pavilion in Bend, Nick Anderson shuttled a puck toward the opposing team’s goal and collided with defender Ryan Trout.

Their collision knocked over the goalie and upended the goal from its moorings. Someone’s helmet scuttled across the ice.

The smash-up drew roars from the crowd and two penalties from a referee.

Trout, who plays for the Jets, chalked up the run-in, and the 3-2 loss to the Capitals, to another night on the ice.

“One of the things I learned at a young age is don’t let people crash the net,” said Trout, 42, whose team is a part of the advanced A Division in the Bend Park & Recreation District’s hockey league.

The two talked after the game.

“There is never animosity between anyone,” Trout said. “It’s not like bowling or curling where there is not going to be physical play. There are going to be bumps and bruises.”

Opponent Anderson, who’s 39 and played professional hockey for 10 years, shrugged it off.

“We got tangled up, lost a little bit of control,” Anderson said.

Players like Trout and Anderson, both native Minnesotans, attribute this brand of respectful sportsmanship to a love of hockey carved out during childhood pick-up games in places like the upper Midwest, Northeast and Alaska, said Kevin Collier, the recreation center supervisor of the Bend Park & Recreation District.

Canada has representatives, too. Hockey’s rising popularity in California, which provides Central Oregon with many newcomers, has also helped stock local hockey teams since the Bend Park & Recreation District began the league in 2015, when The Pavilion opened.

There are four divisions, each of them featuring between four and six teams.

With about 15 players per team, more than 350 men and women in total play hockey at the rink.

Yearly team shuffling mixes hockey players and adds to the sense of camaraderie. A lunchtime division will be added in January. The Pavilion also hosts community ice skating, figure skating and curling.

“People are still just really glad we have a rink,” Collier said, adding that playing organized hockey is an added bonus.

Late arrival

Unlike other winter sports such as skiing, which was championed by ski pioneer Emil Nordeen in the 1920s and popularized by Mt. Bachelor’s mechanized tows in 1958, hockey is a relative latecomer to Central Oregon.

While it may be impossible to pinpoint when the first Central Oregonians slapped pucks across pond ice, the sport found a patriarch in Roland “Wally” Wallace, a Canadian amateur hockey player who moved with his family from Anchorage, Alaska, to Bend in 1969.

Wallace organized “broom ball” games on a corner of the small rink at the Inn of the 7th Mountain (today known as Seventh Mountain Resort) when it was built in 1971.

Wallace’s son, Scott Wallace, 56, remembers the games, which featured taped brooms for sticks and volleyball-like balls for pucks. Unlike traditional broom ball, the players wore skates on the ice.

Players didn’t get in trouble, most of the time, because they didn’t use a puck for fear it would end up in a nearby diner’s bowl of soup, Scott said.

“The resort had a restaurant with a huge plate-glass window about 30 feet away from the rink,” Scott said. “There were a few balls that would hit the window but they wouldn’t break the glass.”

Scott’s father ran the program for more than 20 years, later moving it to Sunriver, where he added conventional hockey to the mix after the resort built its rink in 1982.

“He taught generations of Central Oregonians how to (ice) skate and how to play hockey,” Scott said.

Roland Wallace died in 2013. His name appears on The Pavilion’s scoreboard. Scott, who was the Bend Park & Recreation chair when the bond measure to build The Pavilion was passed in 2012, has helped his father’s legacy live on.

“My read on it is: We’ve built it, and now they’re coming,” Scott said, referring to the many people who use The Pavilion.

While many die-hard players carried a love for the game from frozen home states to Central Oregon. The Pavilion offers a number of instructional clinics for hockey newcomers.

Scott, who plays in the Division-B Predators team and also referees, said about three out of four players at The Pavilion grew up in hockey hotbeds such as the upper Midwest and the Northeast. And it’s a sport with longevity despite the bumps and scrapes.

“Hockey is truly a sport you can enjoy throughout your life and all its stages,” Scott said. “You can play it until you can’t walk or skate anymore — you can play it into your 80s.”

Wallace is playing with his brother Lindsay Wallace, who recently returned to Bend, on the same team for the first time in their lives, he said.

“My dad’s legacy was really all about sharing that love of ice sports with the community,” Scott said. “And I think he would be pretty proud.”

Bend’s skiing opportunities originally attracted Trout in 1994.

Originally from Wayzata, Minnesota, he wanted to pursue the “snow bum” skier dream on the slopes of Mt. Bachelor, but he also couldn’t ignore the allure of ice hockey’s cold precision.

Attending Central Oregon Community College, Trout caught word of a group of hockey players called the Frontiers who played with a tennis ball on the 7th Mountain rink.

He joined them for three-on-three games whenever they didn’t meet on a frozen pond near Alfalfa. Trout has ramped up his ice time since The Pavilion opened.

The local hockey league has also attracted Bend newcomers who might otherwise feel like fish out of frozen water.

Originally from Duluth, Minnesota, Anderson and his family moved to Bend earlier this year after a short stint in Eugene.

After his 2015 retirement from professional hockey, which he mostly played in Europe, Anderson thought he’d hung up his skates for good. Bend’s hockey scene made him think otherwise.

“For some reason, I signed up for this league. And boy, I’m glad I did,” said Anderson, who works remotely in the software industry.

He intends to get involved with coaching youth hockey at The Pavilion.

“The guys are really cool and the competition level is higher than I expected — or wanted,” Anderson said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Whoa, this is good hockey.’”

— Reporter: 541-617-7816, pmadsen@bendbulletin.com

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