Pucks for lunch at the Steve
BRECKENRIDGE – The Stephen C. West Ice Arena’s Lunch Shot program was tailor-made for a guy like Danny O’Connell.
An environmental engineer who works out of his home, O’Connell starts his work day at 4:30 a.m. By the time 11:30 a.m. rolls around – the start of lunchtime, drop-in hockey at the Steve – O’Connell is rarin’ to skate.
“It wakes me up,” he said. “Instead of having lunch and going back to the office and sitting around, you’ve got a shot of adrenaline from skating for an hour and a half.”
The program started in mid-October under the direction of new ice rink manager Jenise Jensen, who has run similar programs at previous ice rink jobs. For $10 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, players get the ice from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the lunch of their choice from the menu of Breck’s Downstairs at Eric’s.
The players place their orders with ice arena staff before they gear up, and when they get off the ice, their food awaits.
“It’s a great deal, it’s like three bucks for a five-dollar Eric’s lunch,” said Breckenridge resident Josh Orintas.
For O’Connell, it goes beyond cheap food and ice time. It brightens a busy work day. Sure, he’ll check his cell phone during water breaks, but it’s all hockey when he’s on the ice. And the respite from desk, phone and computer makes for a better afternoon.
“It carries over,” he said. “It clears your mind.”
Not all Lunch Shot participants are on their lunch break, however. Some of the many restaurant employees in Summit County use it as a pre-work workout.
Orintas was there Thursday along with some fellow Mi Casa cooks. For people who get to work at 4 p.m. (and are up well into early morning), lunchtime, drop-in hockey is the day’s first order of business.
It also helps Orintas when he gets behind the grill at night. He plays games on weekends in the local rec leagues, and Thursday’s mid-day skate gets him thinking about what he needs to work on for the weekend.
“It’s always great to come out and get a skate on,” he said. “And when I’m working, I’ll think about what I need to pick up in my game.”
There were only six skaters on the ice Thursday and two goalies. Tuesday saw about 12 skaters. The ice arena caps the program at 32, and occasionally it maxes out, according to the staff.
For Summit County newcomer, Charles Von Stade, the program has allowed him to get his feet wet in the local hockey scene in preparation for the next rec league season, which begins in January.
Part of his orientation to the hockey community has come on the ice but more has come from the eating and socializing experience that happens after the game. Lunches are left in the room next to the outdoor rink, and most of the players stay and talk about hockey, work, food, life.
“I’m seeing whose playing and what the levels are,” Von Stade said. “It’s a good way to find out what’s going on.”
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