Review: Franklin Park Ice Arena's Original Six Hockey League ★★★★☆

Review: Franklin Park Ice Arena's Original Six Hockey League ★★★★☆
[Photo by Shellie Lewis]

The Original Six Hockey League at Franklin Park Ice Arena was a good place for me to start playing hockey. I learned a lot from being around some experienced players. The 06 League features a mix of C-level and D-level players. The league is no-hit, and does not allow body checking.

Even though it’s called the Original Six League, there were seven teams when I played. Some teams were named after Original Six NHL cities like Detroit, Montreal and Toronto (my team), while teams had non-Original Six names like Phoenix. Then again, it could be called the Original Six League because some of the guys in the league were old enough to remember when the NHL only had six teams!

Target Audience
You should definitely have taken some hockey lessons, or have prior hockey experience, before joining the 06 league. I had about three months of lessons, but was probably a little too green when I started playing here. However, I still fit in with the majority of new players in the league. Anyone who is comfortable in a D-level (beginner) or C-level hockey league is fine for this league. My team had some new players like me, along with some guys who used to play high school hockey. There were also some “old timers” who didn’t want to work too hard (as they explained to me). One dude even had these brown gloves that were over 30 years old. Some opponents that I faced were so good I couldn’t keep up with them, while others would fall down as soon as they touched the puck. The 06 League is really a mixed bag of players.

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All games are officiated by two referees. [Photo by Shellie Lewis]

Game Details
Each game is comprised of three 14-minute, stop-clock periods (meaning that the clock stops when the whistle is blown). If the game is tied after regulation, a winner is decided in the shootout. Games have two referees and a timekeeper/scorekeeper who keeps tracks of goals, assists, penalties and goaltender saves. Penalties are one minute long, and rarely happen in this league, mainly because the league emphasizes clean play and is not afraid to suspend someone who tries to hit or hurt another player.

Teams ★☆
Roster sizes maxed out at 16 skaters and one goalie. Usually, we had anywhere from 11 to 15 players show up each game.

Schedule
Each team plays 10 regular season games, and up to three playoff games. Games run late at night, with start times usually around 9:00 p.m. or 10:30 p.m.. When I played, games were scheduled on Sunday and Tuesday nights, with the odd Monday night game here and there. Later seasons also included Wednesday and Friday night games. If you sign up, be sure to check with Franklin Park to see when games are scheduled, as times and days of the week change from season to season.

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All new players get a two-color jersey with team name and number. [Photo by Shellie Lewis]

Cost ★☆
For $225, you get ten guaranteed regular season games and a jersey. All teams make the playoffs, and can get up to three postseason games. If you return to the same team and do not require a jersey, the price is $200. That comes to $20 per game, which is about average for an hour of ice time. The jerseys are a cut above the standard practice-weight jerseys and feature a heat-pressed team name on the front and number on the back. You have to be a member of USA Hockey (about $53/year) in order to play at Franklin Park Ice Arena.

Ice Quality★☆
Games at Franklin Park Ice arena are held on the main rink (whereas their hockey lessons are held on the Studio Ice Arena). I always found the ice in the main rink to be hard and somewhat choppy. It isn’t too terrible, though, and is always resurfaced before game time — even if the start time is delayed.

Amenities ★☆
There are four locker rooms, with two being allotted to the O6 teams playing that night. The locker rooms are small, and only hold about 10 or 11 players. Thus, many players usually end up changing in the hallway outside of the locker rooms. Fortunately, the hallways have benches for this reason. I am not sure where the few women hockey players changed. I believe that there is a smaller, fifth locker room at the very end of the hallway for women to use, but I am not sure. There is a hockey pro shop, but it will be closed by the time you arrive for your game, so don’t depend on it for laces or any other last-minute purchases. The vending machines stock PowerAde at $1.75 for a 20-ounce bottle. The parking lot is pretty big, so finding a spot isn’t a problem.

Etc – ★★☆
Girlfriends/boyfriends/spouses can go relax in the lobby if they get cold sitting in the stands — or get bored watching your game. The lobby has a wood-burning stove, a TV, chairs, tables and vending machines with snacks and beverages.

Overall – ★★☆
If you have taken lessons and are itching to play in some games, the Original Six League at Franklin Park might be right for you. Granted, you will probably be one of the least-skilled players on your team, but you have to start somewhere. If you have prior experience but haven’t played in a while, the 06 League might also be worth a look.

Franklin Park Ice Arena is located at 9711 Waveland Avenue Franklin Park, IL 60131 (map).

You can learn more about the Original Six League at their website.

BONUS: Here are recaps of all the regular-season games I played in Franklin Park’s Original Six League.


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