A Closer Look at Hockey in Hawaii

Ice Palace

You’ve probably heard NHL star rookie Connor Bedard brought hockey equipment to his family’s Hawaiian vacation this summer, but did you know there’s ice and inline hockey on the Hawaiian islands? If not, don’t worry. Here’s a closer look at hockey in Hawaii.

The number of people of color in men’s and women’s professional hockey has grown in recent years. Take, for example, Jessica Koizumi, a former professional women’s hockey player from Honolulu, Hawaii. One of Koizumi’s neighbors invited her to participate in ice skating at the Ice Palace in Honolulu when she was seven. Her parents reportedly said “no,” but she grabbed her backpack, packed some warm clothes, and walked out the door, telling her neighbor that her parents said “yes.”

After the questionable act, Koizumi and her family relocated to Minnesota and later California so she could pursue a professional hockey career. She became a star forward at the University of Minnesota Duluth in Duluth, Minnesota. She later won a gold medal representing the United States at the 2008 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Harbin, China. She also attended the USA Hockey Women’s National Festival between 2004 and 2007.

But the now-38-year-old hasn’t forgotten her Hawaiian roots. She returned to Oahu in August 2023, where she conducted clinics at the Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas in Kapolei, HI (about 21 miles from Honolulu) to help grow the sport of hockey, particularly for girls and women. She told NHL.com, “It was really an extremely rewarding experience for me to be able to pass along my knowledge of the game in a vacation state where I was born … I had no idea what to expect.”

Ninety-two female participants, from eight to 50, attended Koizumi’s clinics from August 15-19. All 92 of them were eager to learn about hockey, which was a good thing, as the state of Hawaii is better known for its football, basketball, soccer, surfing, and paddleboarding teams. But this shouldn’t be surprising for a U.S. state known for its hot summer sun, beautiful beaches, and local foods.

It’s a good thing that women like Koizumi are trying to grow women’s hockey in the U.S. Women’s hockey has been around since the 1970s, and girls’ hockey grew in participation by 65% over the past 15 seasons, according to USA Hockey. While girls’ and women’s hockey may not be mainstream compared to its boys’ and men’s counterparts, these two sub-categories are helping females learn new things, make new friends, and much more.

Back to the topic, Hawaii only has a few ice hockey options, but a few are better than none. Let’s start with the Ice Palace in Honolulu, HI, as it has existed since 1982. It’s a public ice rink for public skating, figure skating, and private events. It was shut down on March 16, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic but re-opened to the public on December 20, 2022. Its lockers cost $0.50 every time you open them, and it’s 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The latter might sound warm to you, but it might be cold for the locals and West Coast folks. Now, let’s look at the Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas in Honolulu. The Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas is great for individuals and groups looking to skate indoors.

Oh, and let’s not forget that snow does exist in Hawaii, just not as much as in the Midwest and the South. Snow appeared on the Big Island mountains (such as Mauna Kea) as recently as March 2023. At the time, the National Weather Service (NWS) warned residents of unusual snowfall of up to eight inches on some mountains on the Big Island summits and upper slopes. The only other Hawaiian area that receives snow with slight regularity is the Haleakala volcano in Maui, Kahului, HI. The Haleakala volcano, about 10,000 feet, gets snow once every five years or so, per the NWS.

Would you like to skate in Hawaii? Let me know in the comments!

Ana Kieu

Ana Kieu is a journalist by trade. Her love for sports shows in her writing, editing, and podcasting work. She writes about the NHL for Inside The Rink.

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