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Coyle’s Cul-de-sac

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

Neighborhood cul-de-sacs are often quiet, quaint areas tucked away from the buzzing traffic of main roads. However, the lack of passing cars and horseshoe-like layout creates an area that attracts another type of traffic: street hockey. With the advent of rollerblades, the once quiet cul-de-sac became a street hockey haven. Neighbors in the East Weymouth, Mass., cul-de-sac, where Wild prospect Charlie Coyle grew up, know this all too well.

Like the Serengeti provides the perfect hunting grounds for a pride of lions, Coyle’s cul-de-sac was the ideal place for a street hockey game. During the summer months, when school let out and Coyle had all day to play, the neighbors would be at work. Games could get rowdy with no adults around to yell, “Keep it down!” In the evening, neighbors parked in their driveways, leaving the pavement playing surface clear for matches during the waning hours of sunlight.

“We’d always have big games,” Coyle said. “We could play forever. But it’s hot in the summer, so we’d play, jump in the pool, and then go back and play.”

The cul-de-sac was a breeding ground for the power forward’s skills when he wasn’t at the ice rink. And when he didn’t have the luxury of the neighborhood kids coming over for an all out game, he’d have one of his older sisters, Jill or Jess, to compete against.

“They always loved to be around the sport,” Coyle recalled. “If no one was out on the street, and it was just me out there by myself, I’d make my sisters suit up and play goalie.

“They loved it.”

As the 6-foot-3, 222-pound winger got older and the games got bigger, they began to outgrow the cul-de-sac. His cousin, Trevor King, who was close in age, lives near a park with an outdoor roller rink. When the games moved to the rink, they began to grow in size. When there were too many players to choose sides by tossing sticks, the neighborhood kids would divide into teams of three and have all-day tournaments.

“We’d go all out,” Coyle remembers. “Make standings, have a tournament with playoffs and a championship.”

One of the obstacles of playing roller hockey all day is keeping your energy up with food and water. To stay hydrated, the crew would bring a huge jug of Gatorade, the kind you see college football coaches doused with after a big win, to the rink. During the longer games, which started in the morning and went well past the noon hour, Coyle and his comrades would blade down to the local sub shop for a quick sandwich. The right wing remembers a pack of fifteen hungry rollerbladers whizzing by on the street with hockey sticks and gloves was quite the sight. Occasionally when the games were too intense, and the group didn’t want to take the break to go to the store, they would order pizza to the park.

“(The pizza delivery guy) was probably a little shocked and not really know what’s going on,” Coyle laughed. “But we didn’t care, we were just playing and wanted food. We were hungry.”

In recent summers, he has passed his love of the sport to his younger cousins, Kevin, Dicky, Bobby and Samantha Coyle. The cousins live close by and play ice hockey, with Samantha, the oldest, still in high school. When his cousins are not over visiting, playing at the cul-de-sac, the Houston Aeros winger will bring the lessons to them.

“I’ll go over there and shoot around with them,” Coyle said. “Maybe teach them a thing or two.”

After his first season of professional hockey, when Coyle returns to East Weymouth for the summer, he envisions that he will call up the old crew from the neighborhood and have a game that will last late into the Massachusetts night.

“I love it,” Coyle said. “Street hockey is the next best thing when it’s the offseason.”

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