There is no puck, there are no skates, players don’t fight and — as in true hockey tradition — there is plenty of beer and good times. This is Max Retter’s and Molly Muranka’s version of hockey and they’re bringing it to Austin.
The Street Bird Hockey League is their creation. The idea was sparked after watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs when the pair became intrigued by the idea of playing hockey themselves. After they weren’t able to find a non-skating street league in Austin, they decided that the best solution was to create one of their own.
Street hockey does not stray very much from its inspiration on ice. The game is played with a ball rather than a puck, and players wear shoes and minimal equipment. Protective gear is worn at the players’ own discretion.
Though competitive, the league has a clear and simple goal: to “organize a league where people can play street hockey...and have lots of laughs.”
The Street Bird Hockey League is catering to a specific group of hockey enthusiasts.
“It’s pretty much for people who like watching hockey, but don’t know how to play ice hockey,” Muranka said. “You don’t need any experience. We have one guy that showed up yesterday from Reddit and he was really worried. I think he scored twice.”
The league features various social events hosted for the players, and because of a love of beer, participants are asked to be at least 21 years of age.
However, Adam Annen, a member of the league, doesn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression.
“We’re not running around with a stick in one hand and a beer in the other,” Annen said.
Annen first heard about Street Bird after picking up a flier on his lunch break. He has been active with inline hockey leagues throughout the Austin and Round Rock areas, but enjoys the experience of Street Bird.
“I think the biggest appeal to me is to get together with friends and share something that I love doing,” Annen said. “I think hockey, unlike other mainstream sports, has a pretty strong sense of community because it isn’t as popular as football or basketball...so it has a sort of pride to it in that way.”
Street Bird provides a very family-like camaraderie and that aspect is heavily emphasized.
“We all help each other out with borrowing equipment, to sharing tips, to giving rides to the sporting goods store,” Annen said.
In order to join Street Bird, players must sign a liability form and then they are free to play. Practices are held at 8 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday at Metz Park. Both Retter and Muranka encourage people of all skill levels and abilities to go out and play.