Hitting the ice

Ice hockey hasn't been a popular sport in New Mexico, but organizers of a free hockey skating session on Nov. 2 maintain the winter sport can gain a foothold here. The Genoveva Chavez Community Center is hosting a free hockey skate from 5 to 6:15 pm for youth players. Melanie MacGillivray, vice president of the Santa Fe Hockey Association, says it's sponsored by USA Hockey, the organization that oversees amateur hockey, and that "this is the first time Santa Fe has ever participated in an event like this." She says 40 kids will get free hockey jerseys. Last year a high school team from Canada visited New Mexico to play some of the state's youth talent. And two weeks ago, MacGillivray says, the Ravens, a pewee team composed of kids ages 9 to 11 from Santa Fe and other parts of New Mexico, won silver in a tournament in Las Vegas, Nev. Boosters have long tried to expand hockey into southern and western cities across the nation, with mixed results because of the availability of ice rinks and equipment, steep costs and lack of recognition of the sport. Still, the number of hockey players has slowly climbed in New Mexico, with 1,306 in 2011-12, up from 1,115 in 2002-03, according to USA Hockey. "[USA Hockey is] just really trying to promote hockey, youth hockey, to all different cities and hockey leagues across the country," MacGillivray says of the event. The GCCC skate comes just before youth hockey leagues begin practice on Nov. 4. Registration is required (tryhockeyforfree.com), and participants must bring gloves and a helmet. "A bike helmet is fine," according to the city's website. (Justin Horwath)