Freshman boys continue to tear up the ice after moving from other countries

Amanda Morse

Tiny shards of ice fly off the rink into the air. Rapidly moving skates carve into the surface while players chase after a small black puck. It hits the wall and bounces perfectly to the stick of the player who then swiftly glides toward the opposing team’s goal. He winds up and puts all his momentum into a game-winning shot that powerfully flies past the fully-padded goalie into the back of the net. The buzzer goes off; the game is won.

Playing at a rink in Canada, Lucas (left) and Jacob (right) have been involved with hockey since they were very young.
Playing at a rink in Canada, Lucas (left) and Jacob (right) have been involved with hockey since they were very young.

This is a rush that all ice hockey players experience when they suit up and enter the rink. Freshman twin brothers Jacob and Lucas Mandels, originally born in California, moved to Montreal, Canada when they were in kindergarten, and soon after entered the world of hockey.

Living in Marin, where snow is not typically predicted in the morning forecast, the sport of ice hockey is uncommon. Though there are rinks around the Bay Area, they aren’t as accessible as simply walking to the nearby sports field or track. But, this has not been a problem for the boys, who continue to pursue the sport they love.

Growing up in Canada, the Mandels were within walking distance of several ice hockey rinks. It snowed often in Montreal, so playing hockey was a popular sport.Whether it was in their backyard, on the street outside their house or in a stadium, the sound of skates cutting into the ice was common for the Mandels.

“It was always cold there. The summers were hot, but after the summer there was no fall or spring so there were rinks and every day we would just play hockey. Everyone did, so we picked it up quickly,” Lucas said.

The Mandels, although young at the time, competed in a league called the Ski League, which was structured around ice hockey players who were also involved in skiing.

“Since there was always snow and it was only an hour’s drive to the mountains, we would just drive up to the mountains [to ski]. It was so fun,” Lucas said.

Not only were they able to play the sport as much as they desired, they were also able to watch some of the best ice hockey players in Canada, as their house was close to the Montreal Canadiens’ stadium.

When they returned to California, they knew that ice hockey was not as accessible of a sport with the closest rink being in San Francisco and it would require a lot more commitment, according to Jacob.

However, they had no means of giving up ice hockey for good—they just knew that the luxury of being able to play every day would disappear. This did not stop them from letting it slip away; they still try and get out onto the ice as much as they can whether it be skating only or playing ice hockey.

Suiting up to play, the Mandel boys prepare for their game in the locker room when they first began ice hockey.
Suiting up to play, the Mandel boys prepare for their game in the locker room when they first began ice hockey.

Similar to the Mandels, freshman Riley Goodman is originally from Sochi, Russia, where he lived until he was three. With hockey being such a popular sport, Goodman was surrounded by the sport as young boy and has been playing since he was nine.

“I started when I was nine and I have had people tell me I am too short and not strong, but I don’t care what everybody says,” Goodman said.

What differs Goodman from the Mandels is his greater commitment to the sport these days. He now plays on a competitive youth hockey team that ranges from children eight and under to high schoolers called the San Francisco Sabercats. He practices three times a week at a rink in downtown San Francisco.

Goodman said he enjoys the aspect of building relationships and meeting new people from all over the Bay Area through playing on a competitive hockey team. He is also able to interact with players from different states when he travels to places such as Colorado and Arizona for tournaments.

Seeing how much time he puts into ice hockey and how much love he has for the sport, he aims to continue playing hockey until he can’t play anymore.

Those who play ice hockey bond with their team and everyone who is a part of the sport because of the sense of uniqueness, according to Goodman. This ultimately sets it apart from other sports such as baseball and soccer, especially here in Marin.