Underwater hockey is returning to Yellowknife
Kathy Unger last played underwater hockey in her undergrad in Guelph, 14 years ago. Now, she’s bringing the sport to Yellowknife.
Recognized as an international sport, underwater hockey is played entirely on the floor of a pool. Players are equipped with flippers and a snorkel mask, meaning they are required to hold their breath for as long as they safely can.
According to Unger, this makes the sport accessible to all ages, genders and body types.
“Because they’re underwater, it’s a really good co-ed sport for all ages,” she told Cabin Radio.
“It doesn’t really matter how big and strong you are, you’re going to run out of breath, you have to go back up for air. Nobody can hold their breath the whole time.”
The games run in two 10-minute halves, being quick and intense, explained Unger. While the puck is weighted to keep it at the bottom of the pool, players must be strong-enough swimmers to keep themselves at the pool floor. Games typically involve six players on each team.
So far, the club has had held one night of games. Turnout was higher than Unger expected.
“There’s been a lot of interest. It’s a really intriguing, cool sport that not a lot of people have heard of,” she said.
“It’s playing a sport and using your body in a way that’s not like soccer or basketball, where you can breathe the whole time. You’re going back and forth in the pool but at the same time, you’re moving up and down while watching your teammates, and I really love that.”
The city last had an underwater hockey club in 1999, started by Jacques Toupin, who no longer resides in the territory. Unger said one of her friends, Jessie Olson, encouraged her to bring the sport back.
“I laughed at her. I didn’t think it could actually be a thing,” Unger said.
“We reached out to other clubs in Saskatchewan and whatnot, and we reached out to Jacques, who helped us with funding and tips on how to make it work, and it all kind-of just fell into place.”
The club will meet at the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool on Sundays from 8-9pm. Players are asked to bring their own fins and snorkel masks, though a limited supply can be provided by the pool. Special underwater hockey sticks are provided by the club.
More information can be found on the club’s Facebook page.