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marka

Boston area good adult beginner leagues/groups?

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Howdy,

A friend of a friend who lives in the Boston area (Haverhill, MA / Plaistow, NH apparently) wants to start playing hockey. 

Any recommendations?  She played once down here with the beginner group my wife plays in and got the bug pretty hard.  Quite new, in terms of skill, but able to skate around without immediately killing herself or others.

She's looking for recommendations for good leagues, pickups, adult skills classes, or whatever that are appropriate for an adult beginner.

Mark

Edited by marka

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I'd start here --> http://neshl.pointstreaksites.com/view/neshl/

Not perfect, no leagues are but they do a decent job of eliminating the BS and tossing the Hero's. 

They offer clinics as well.. http://neshl.pointstreaksites.com/view/neshl/general-information-about-neshl-adult-hockey/fall-winter-season/clinics-1

There is plenty to pick from here. Every rink I play at has some sort of house league. I've played with Stinky Socks before. Some swear by them, and while it's not bad. I found the level of competition varied widely.

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Is she interested in playing co-ed, or would she prefer to skate with women-only?  There's a women's league in Fitchburg (maybe a little too far), and a couple of leagues play out of Bedford, MA as well. 

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Howdy,

I don't know her particularly well, but when she played with us it was co-ed and she seemed to love it, so my guess is that she's after more "good level" than "gender" but ??

I'll send my friend a link to this thread and she can pass on the recommendations.  Thanks!


Mark

Edited by marka
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Depends on where she lives

Hockey North America does well with beginner levels...

At the beginner level...... I would stay away from NESHL.

 

Z45

 

 

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1 hour ago, Zylos45 said:

Depends on where she lives

Hockey North America does well with beginner levels...

At the beginner level...... I would stay away from NESHL.

 

Z45

 

times a thousand to stay away from NESHL at the beginner level. Heck even their upper leagues are a shitshow.

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28 minutes ago, the_game said:

 

times a thousand to stay away from NESHL at the beginner level. Heck even their upper leagues are a shitshow.

Must depend on location. I don't have any real issues playing out of Marlborough. There is some usual beer league stuff but not nearly as much as what I am told goes on in local house leagues. 

There is a lot to choose from in MA, just need to narrow it down to what suits your needs. 

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On 9/1/2018 at 4:25 PM, marka said:

Howdy,

I don't know her particularly well, but when she played with us it was co-ed and she seemed to love it, so my guess is that she's after more "good level" than "gender" but ??

I'll send my friend a link to this thread and she can pass on the recommendations.  Thanks!


Mark

Let's face it, men are weird and get weirder around women; some women prefer to bypass the machismo. 🙂 Also it potentially offers her more opportunities.

I have heard NESHL can be a clusterfuck. My experience with StinkySocks is that the skates can be a crapshoot - you'll get clearly-not-D-level skaters at a D game.  I have had good experiences with MAHL (MA hockey league) and I believe they have some skates in that region now.  

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17 hours ago, stick9 said:

Must depend on location. I don't have any real issues playing out of Marlborough. There is some usual beer league stuff but not nearly as much as what I am told goes on in local house leagues. 

There is a lot to choose from in MA, just need to narrow it down to what suits your needs. 

Marlborough is the only NESHL location I haven't skated in. Play Metro boston A & B and theres always a handful of idiots and have also seen it when filling in on North of Boston & in Walpole. If you ever need a fellow Modsquad sub, lemme know not too far from Marlboro.

16 hours ago, badger_14 said:

Let's face it, men are weird and get weirder around women; some women prefer to bypass the machismo. 🙂 Also it potentially offers her more opportunities.

I have heard NESHL can be a clusterfuck. My experience with StinkySocks is that the skates can be a crapshoot - you'll get clearly-not-D-level skaters at a D game.  I have had good experiences with MAHL (MA hockey league) and I believe they have some skates in that region now.  

I used to help run and ref the Stinkysocks skills & scrimmage out of Andover, its not perfect but for the most part its a very welcoming and non-intimating environment for new skaters. Sure there are some people that sandbag now and then, but it should be up to the Ref to pull that person aside and tell them they didn't belong there, at least that's what I did. I know Stinkysocks has gotten pretty big but when I was involved Pete (the owner) took this pretty seriously, the 'no jerk' policy. Not sure that's being enforced but I can say it was when I was involved.

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38 minutes ago, the_game said:

Marlborough is the only NESHL location I haven't skated in. Play Metro boston A & B and theres always a handful of idiots and have also seen it when filling in on North of Boston & in Walpole. If you ever need a fellow Modsquad sub, lemme know not too far from Marlboro.

I used to help run and ref the Stinkysocks skills & scrimmage out of Andover, its not perfect but for the most part its a very welcoming and non-intimating environment for new skaters. Sure there are some people that sandbag now and then, but it should be up to the Ref to pull that person aside and tell them they didn't belong there, at least that's what I did. I know Stinkysocks has gotten pretty big but when I was involved Pete (the owner) took this pretty seriously, the 'no jerk' policy. Not sure that's being enforced but I can say it was when I was involved.

Apologies - I should have said you *can* end up with overskilled guys dropping down a level or two and wreaking havoc. My experience is mainly Somerville and Brighton.  I've been out to Concord a few times and it felt like there was kind of a core group there, and even if it ended up being a broader mix, they were polite about it and didn't sandbag the whole game. Somerville's games have always struck me as being a free-for-all generally.  It matters less to me personally as a goalie, but I feel bad when people arrive expecting a lower skate and a bunch of B players show up and skate circles around them for an hour. 

Question, though - who's responsible for keeping track of this?  Like, if a skater has registered for both B and D level games, does it get flagged in the system?  Or if a skater has identified themselves as B and registers for D and novice skates? 

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31 minutes ago, badger_14 said:

Apologies - I should have said you *can* end up with overskilled guys dropping down a level or two and wreaking havoc. My experience is mainly Somerville and Brighton.  I've been out to Concord a few times and it felt like there was kind of a core group there, and even if it ended up being a broader mix, they were polite about it and didn't sandbag the whole game. Somerville's games have always struck me as being a free-for-all generally.  It matters less to me personally as a goalie, but I feel bad when people arrive expecting a lower skate and a bunch of B players show up and skate circles around them for an hour. 

Question, though - who's responsible for keeping track of this?  Like, if a skater has registered for both B and D level games, does it get flagged in the system?  Or if a skater has identified themselves as B and registers for D and novice skates? 

No apologies needed, I've seen the good & bad with Stinkysocks, Somerville would be especially eschewed on skill level that's for sure.

In regards to how they would police the skill levels, and keep in mind this was years ago before they really expanded, but I think the main office had a database of skill levels associated to a lot of players and I heard of scenario's where people signed up for a game and got a call from the office offering another skate/time because of this, not sure if that still happens. There was also some rather vocal skaters who would suggest (or complain, ha) to the office about certain people too. After that it was up to the Ref's to report back to the office or have a chat with the skaters. Again, this was years ago but Pete's grown the business pretty well so I'm not sure how he's scaled the operation to handle this.

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I also play in the Metro Boston A and B league in the NESHL (I’d be shocked if @the_game and I haven’t gone head to head without knowing!).

I’d say on average I have to use the “Relax I have to go to work in the morning” line about every other game. Most of the guys think there’s still a sliver of hope that someone from the Bruins’ brass will pluck them out of beer league if you catch my drift. My sense is that this is largely the case in the lower level leagues and other regions as well. 

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My wife plays in South Shore Women's League. They have a lot of different divisions, and apparently some are very beginner. She said some teams have practices and developmental stuff, so that might be an option. 

I played a few seasons of C level NESHL with my wife (She actually joined both teams on her own, they I jumped on for a summer). Teams were very welcoming of both of us, since we "free agents." Guys in the locker room and on the team were friendly, but refs seemed to let A LOT go, and I thought it was straight up dangerous at times. I got run into the boards from behind a few times by guys that couldn't skate, and lots of slashes and hooks. Seems like quite a few guys are just playing in that league so they can get into fights. No thanks. 

Stinky Socks is really welcoming and friendly. It's more or less like a pick-up with a ref. I think they generally do a job keeping things level, and even when people do skate at the wrong level, it's no more egregious than an other hockey where there's a 10% chance theres someone  playing too high or too low for their level. Doing a D level game or two a week with a skills development somewhere would be a good start. Because it's mostly drop in, it's great if you have a weird schedule, and a cool way to meet people. (If you're social. I am not social.)

MAHL has been friendly and nice in my interactions with them, but it sometimes feels a like they are running leagues with too few players. I think they are still establishing themselves, so maybe that issue is getting better. 

Hockey North America has been an ok as a league, and feels SUPER organized. I've only been playing in it for a few months. I don't know if they offer any developmental programs. 

Hockey New England has been good the seasons I have played with them. People who run the league are very friendly and approachable and welcoming. I've actually twice heard someone from the league call players out for using homophobic slurs, which was kind of amazing to hear from an adult sports league. Again, I don't know if they do any skillz clinics or developmental stuff. 

I don't care if guys are overcompensating try-hards, as long as they are safe and respectful of other players. My issue is with guys who want to "get under your skin" with all the slashes and hooks and whacking the crap out of the goalie. 

Edited by start_today
added the HNE info
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If she doesn’t care about women’s vs. coed, tell her to just skate Stinkysocks D and hunt down a couple clinics or other instructional skates in her area to supplement. As mentioned (I’m the wife in start_today’s post above) I’ve skated a bunch of leagues around Boston over the last few years and frankly I don’t think any of them are big no-no’s as long as she’s skating at a beginner level. This is my first season skating with a women’s team in a few years, (I did for a while back when I was first learning as well, but that was in Pittsburgh), and I totally understand the arguments for it, but I’m personally finding it just reinforcing how much more fun I find playing against men, and how much it challenges me to get better, faster. 

The only one I haven’t seen mentioned is Hockey New England. I play summers with a C team in Malden and really think they do a nice job running a good league... during the rest of the year I think the games move to Everett.. if those are areas she’d want to drive to, and if she’s decent enough to handle game play, their D level teams are definitely female- and beginner-friendly.

If she wants to message me any questions about my experiences starting and learning as an woman who didn’t play as a kid, happy to chat any time, just DM me. 

 

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