Kids find cool passion with Fresno's youth hockey team

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- When this first grader hits the ice, sometimes she really hits the ice.

But Cataleya's skating with confidence on this Sunday.

Her entire hockey club is wearing new pads, donated by the National Hockey League players' union.

So she geared up before she fell into action.

"It's cool because when you fall it doesn't hurt," Cataleya said.

Her squad is the Fresno Force. It's a group of about 15 kids, mostly underprivileged, so they lived in a penalty box where the sport of hockey was out of reach, and not because we live in a no snow zone.

"You have to get ice time, you got to have the full equipment - skates, stick, and all that other stuff - it's a huge investment to play hockey, and so it's kind of prohibitive," Jonathan Denton coaches the team.

He's a Fresno police officer who learned to love hockey while the sport boomed and came to California with stars like Wayne Gretzky.

Now, he's transferring his cool passion to these kids.

"Do you like hockey a lot?"

"Yeah. One million thousand. More than infinity?" Cataleya said.

The coaching staff is mainly police officers with some help from the Fresno Monsters team.

They get free ice time from Gateway Ice Center to teach kids the fundamentals on the ice, so they find themselves getting better on skates and having better associations with police.

"It just shows, kind of like a whole different side of law enforcement, that we're not always just chasing bad guys," Denton said. "We're reaching out to the community, and we're doing what's best and reaching out."

They're trying to grow the club until there are enough players for an all-girls team and a boys team, so you can follow them on Facebook for updates.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.