Sports

FWay hockey player excels on any surface

By CASEY OLSON

Sports editor

Federal Way’s R.J. Preisser has been on skates for almost a decade. Not bad considering R.J. is only 12 years old and just finished sixth grade.

“He can skate better than I can stand,” R.J.’s mother Pam Preisser said.

Preisser started on roller blades when he was 3 years old at Pattison’s West in Federal Way as a speed skater. But that sport didn’t last too long. R.J. needed a little more action than just rolling around in a circle.

“Somebody said they were looking for ice hockey players,” Pam Preisser said.

So at the age of 5, R.J. started playing ice hockey and the rest is history.

“I have been doing it for a long time,” R.J. said. “I like ice hockey because you get to hit a lot.”

But ice hockey wasn’t enough for the energetic seventh-grader. R.J. is also one of the better youth roller hockey players in the area and his team, the Mad Dawgs, just recently qualified for the 2003 TORHS National Championships by placing second at the Oregon Regional tournament in Portland last month. The national championships are July 10-16 at the ESL Centre in Rochester, N.Y. and will feature teams from across the United States.

The Mad Dawgs are made up of kids from around the Puget Sound area, including Enumclaw, Renton, Bonney Lake and Bellingham, among others. They had only been together for three weeks before playing in Portland.

“We got to know a guy from Langley (British Columbia),” said Pam Preisser. “There is not a lot of competition roller hockey in this area. So he put together a tournament team and we have had a lot of success with that. People at the tournament were amazed. There were teams there which had been together four years. We were really an unknown.”

Roller hockey is different than ice hockey. It is more of a wide-open game that is played by four players on each team, instead of the normal five-on-five in ice hockey. There is also no checking, no offsides and no icing.

“It is pretty fast-paced,” Pam Preisser said. “The kids are just learning to use the whole floor.”

The Mad Dawgs practice every Saturday and Monday at Arena Sports in Redmond, which is one of only a few roller hockey complexes in the state, so booking time at the facility hasn’t been the easiest. There are times when the kids aren’t getting home until 11 p.m. on school night’s.

“I just love playing,” R.J. said. “I have been doing it for a long time.”

R.J. is still involved in ice hockey and is currently in Calgary playing in a tournament in conjunction with the Calgary Stampede rodeo. He has also played in tournaments in Toronto, Winnipeg and Florida during the year.

“Hockey is really his life,” said Pam Preisser.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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