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'I like to hustle like they do': Local kids inspired to play street hockey by the Lightning

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Posted at 12:40 PM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-03 19:04:58-04

ODESSA, Fla. — The kids just need some hockey sticks, pucks or tennis balls — either works — a few kids on in-line skates and a goal. Now, we’ve got ourselves a street hockey game.

“Just try and get better. You practice everything that you’d do in a game situation,” said Jackson Kelley.

Jackson’s mom said her son really got into hockey the last few years and it’s because of the Lightning.

“Santa brought him roller blades and he started out here at the dead end. He actually didn’t want to play hockey in the beginning. We started off watching the Lightning. He taught himself how to skate. Then we had two neighbors come down that are on the travel team and once they started playing, he decided he wanted to play,” said Whitney Kelley.

The Lightning has encouraged youth hockey for years. They visit schools, hand out sticks, help build roller hockey rinks and host clinics.

It doesn’t hurt that these kids are growing up in a time when the Lightning have won two straight Stanley Cups and are going for a third.

“It’s awesome just seeing them win and go back to back,” said Jackson Kelley.

“I like to hustle like they do. When I watch them that’s how I get better,” said Landon Racine.

“I try and copy Brayden Point and Hedman. I like when he (Point) goes into the zone and stops really quick. Turns back around and sends it to the defense,” said Cole Hauca.

Sure the kids get banged up playing street hockey. But, they don't mind.

When asked how many bruises he's had, Kelley said "too many to count."

The neighbors don’t seem to mind when the kids play.

“We haven’t had any broken car windows. Thank goodness,” said Whitney Kelley.

Rain or shine the game goes on.

“It just makes you want to continue with your dream and what you want to do,” said Hauca.