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Gotta check yourself in this league

  • Outdoor Ice Hockey, photographed at Warren Park (6601 North Western Avenue) on Friday, November 31, 2012.
Outdoor Ice Hockey, photographed at Warren Park (6601 North Western Avenue)… (Hilary Higgins/RedEye )
December 04, 2012|By Matt Lindner | For RedEye

That games are played without a roof overhead isn't the only thing different about the Chicago Outdoor Hockey League.

When creating the organization, founder Sean Campbell said he wanted to make it fun for everyone, and that meant one thing: no aggression.

"It's a no-check league," he said. "People are out here to have a good time, get some exercise. "If you're a fighter, this league's not for you. It's not the direction I want our league to be taking, so we really do have to make that example."

If a ref calls a penalty, the consequences for that player's team are dire.

Rather than serve two minutes in the penalty box, the opposing team gets a penalty shot. For major penalties, two penalty shots are awarded. Campbell said this is designed to encourage players to keep their emotions in check.

"I've told my refs, 'Don't put around with any horsing around,'" he said.

Players say it's a refreshing change of pace that allows them to be more creative on the ice.

"It's a lot more fun," said 29-year-old Raul Bravo of Skokie. "You don't get people taking cheap shots. You can go out there and not have to worry about someone taking your head off because they're mad about something."

Games are played with a 45-minute running clock with two refs. In addition to the no checking and no fighting rules, players are divided up by skill level into three leagues to ensure everyone's getting a fair shake.

"They go through this, some would say a ridiculous, application to actually gauge their level of play so I can try to balance the league as much as we can, make it fun and competitive," he said. "It's more fun for them. You don't want to be out there and have somebody that's 10 times better than you, skating around everybody, hot dogging it. That's fun for nobody."

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

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