From Boeing tech to hockey tender

July 3, 2008

By Jim Feehan

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Newcastle man fulfills dream in adult recreational league

Josh Phanco resembles the Michelin Man as he waddles down the corridor leading to the rink at Castle Ice Arena, weighed down by 50 pounds of hockey goaltender gear.

Josh Phanco, of Newcastle, blocks a shot during a practice session at Castle Ice Arena. Phanco, a technician at Boeing,  plays goalie for an adult recreational league team. Photo by Jim FeehanPhanco, 23, of Newcastle, plays goalie for an adult recreational league team. A life-long hockey fan, he decided to take up the sport six months ago.

“It’s a great way to unwind after a day at work,” said Phanco, a technician at Boeing. “Hockey is fast paced and there is nothing else like it.”

Players pepper Phanco with a series of slap shots from point blank range during the practice session. He blocks the shots with his stick, blocker and leg padding before a puck slips between his legs. Such is the life of a goalie.

“I’m half convinced my co-workers think I’m nuts to play goalie,” he said.

Phanco’s friend Devin Olsen, 23, of Kent, began playing recreational league hockey earlier this year. He played roller hockey, a street version of ice hockey with inline skates, since age 12 and always wanted to take up the sport.

“I used my tax refund check to pay for the gear,” said Olsen, also a Boeing technician, adding that hockey gear, rink rental and league fees cost about $2,000.

Sprinting up and down the ice on skates is exhilarating and a great work out, he said.

“During a shift, you’re on the ice 45 seconds to a minute before returning to the bench, gasping for air and asking for water,” Olsen said. “I’ve never sweat so much in my life. I must say, it’s a great form of exercise.”

Phanco and Olsen attended a five-week, learn-to-play camp in March conducted by former National Hockey League player Jamie Huscroft, general manager of Castle Ice.

“Hockey is incredibly popular in the area,” Huscroft said. “The Greater Seattle Hockey League is the fifth largest adult recreational league in the nation.”

Drop by Castle Ice, near Liberty High School in the Renton Highlands, on any given night and you’ll catch a recreational league game or a pick-up game played by Microsoft programmers, Boeing engineers and other professionals, Huscroft said.

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