Local kids hit the ice at Lexington's Triangle Park to kick off 2023

Posted at 2:47 PM, Jan 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-02 19:38:36-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The frozen pond was a little slushy on this unseasonably warm January day in Lexington’s Triangle Park. But for the kids who got to play outdoor hockey, the ice condition wasn’t really something they were worried about.

The Lexington Thoroughbreds 6 and under and 8 and under teams played for an hour in the shadow of Rupp Arena on Monday morning, and it was as pure as the snow you’d expect to see on the ground this time of year.

“This is one of our best events of the year,” said Coach Will Gerken. Gerken has four kids playing in the league, three of them were on the ice today.


“We had some people walking down the street saying, ‘this is neat.’ One guy said, ‘I’ve never liked hockey before but when I saw these kids playing and having so much fun, it was a great time,’” he said.

Gerken, a University Kentucky professor of Finance, still plays in a men’s league to this day, but admittedly never had the skating ability to play on a high level as a young man. Hockey is very much a niche sport, where ice time is oftentimes hard to come by. And it can be just as difficult to find enough kids who want to play in this part of the country.

“My family is from Canada,” said Alex McMackin who has two kids playing today. “So going up to visit them we knew they had to learn how to skate,” she continued.


It’s not different than a kid from Florida, or Southern California learning to swim at an early age. Or a kid from Kentucky learning that basketball is the game around here. But in hockey, the ice can make mortals of even the greatest athletes.

“One of the great things about hockey is that it’s a great equalizer where kids that are great athletes off the ice still have to learn how to skate. It’s challenging. It’s not easy,” Gerken noted.

There were kids out here as young as four-year-old Leo McMackin. Alex’s son is already holding his own because of those trips to Canada. Essentially, he had to learn to skate before learning to walk.

The team operates out of the Central Kentucky Hockey Association, which offers programs for beginners all the way through high school.


“It’s about having fun, getting better, having a good time. It’s a joy to do, it’s a lot of time, a lot of hard work, but the kids love it,” Gerken said.

The faces on the kids who were gliding all across that slushy ice rink in the middle of Lexington confirmed all of that.

If your son or daughter has an interest in playing hockey with the CKHA, follow this link. Central Kentucky Hockey Association