LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The University of Louisville Cardinals and University of Kentucky Wildcats were on the court Tuesday night, but during the Olympics many Louisville kids said they were watching hockey on TV, something that's rare in the Bluegrass. The kids happen to be hockey players themselves and can't wait to see the U.S. Men and Women in action this week.
At Iceland Sports Complex that makes General Manager Don Burton very happy. "We've seen a growth in our public skate, our birthday party package and phone calls are coming in," Burton said. Many of those callers ask, "How can my child play hockey?" And that gives the Detroit native his biggest smile. When Burton came to Louisville 13 years ago, it was hard to put together a team.
So, is Louisville is becoming a hockey town?
We asked old pros like young Jackson Barker who said, "I've been skating since I was 4 years old." Carson Moylan, 11, said, "I've been skating since I was 2!"
Both kids are part of the Louisville traveling teams. All are called the Louisville Ice Cardinals: The 9 and 10-year-olds are the Squirts and the 11 and 12-year-olds are known as the Pee Wees.
"We've won our 10th game so far and we got a fourth shut out," Jackson said proudly.
The players have goals on the ice and off. Jackson said he asks himself, "Am I going to score a goal, am I going to get a penalty? What am I gonna do next?"
They also have NHL and Olympic dreams and why not? Many of the coaches have ice cred from Michigan and Ohio. Squirt Justin Lemonds said of his Olympic wish, "It would be really cool to win one, a Gold medal with my team." Watching the U.S. Men and Women is motivation.
Pee Wee Coach Chris Kolibab said, "This weekend it was really great cause a lot of our kids woke up early at 7:30 to watch USA play the Russian team that was probably if you hadn't seen it that was one of the most memorable games of all time to end in a shootout that lasted forever." Squirts Coach Mike Lemonds said, "One of our kids has Russian parents, so he was pulling for Russia and the rest of the team was pulling for the USA so they were razzing him a bit after the United States beat Russia."
As for parents? They say hockey in Sochi and Louisville gives kids a great team lesson.
Hockey dad Ed Maxwell said, "I think what they do remember is the friendships and the bonds and the coaches and the experiences of going to the games and the tournaments."
Louisville led the country in the Try Hockey for Free Program. They'll offer it again this year at Iceland March 1.