Instructor’s hockey practice grows to Elmwood Park league
Don Marino from the police team and Mike Scheidt from the firefighters team battle for the puck Aug. 20. The Elmwood Park Police and Fire departments played for bragging rights in an indoor hockey game. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
NAME: Ted Gruber
ALSO KNOWN AS: Elmwood Park Recreation Center instructor, floor hockey league founder and referee
Updated: September 3, 2012 9:10AM
ELMWOOD PARK — What started as hockey enthusiasts keeping their skills sharp has taken on a life of its own.
Elmwood Park Recreation Center instructor Ted Gruber loves watching and playing hockey so much, he would play floor hockey when he was unable to get on the ice. He and former recreation director Don Kmiecik would play against each other.
Then it grew from there.
“A couple of my friends started coming in and we had some pick-up games,” Gruber said.
When the word got out there was floor hockey at the recreation center, people inquired about league play. Elmwood Park Recreation Department Director Alan Schmidt asked Gruber if he wanted to start one.
“It just blew up and everyone was interested,” he said.
The program has turned into a 10-team floor hockey league, which closed Aug. 15 with a 7-4 victory by the Puckheads over Shut Your 5-Hole in the recreation department’s first floor hockey league championship game. It was serious business, with plenty of contact and aggression. All that was missing was the ice.
Along with organizing the league, Gruber officiated many of the games, including the championship game where the Puckheads walked away with bragging rights and T-shirts.
He said floor hockey is an aggressive game; penalties are called and players can spend time in a makeshift penalty box. Players rotate in and out, and when not on the floor, most become a coach and yell orders, advice, praise and expletives to the players on the floor and the referees.
“A lot of these guys play ice hockey,” Gruber said. “It’s a way to keep themselves in shape when they play ice hockey.”
Members of Elmwood Park’s police department played floor hockey against members of the fire department Aug. 20 for the Inaugural Gruber Cup, named for Gruber. The police won, beating the firefighters 9-4.
“We had about 30 to 35 people watching,” he said. “We had a goal horn go off.”
Gruber said he will probably start the hockey league program again in the spring.
“I’m just having fun with it,” he said. “It’s a good time. I love hockey.”