Bulldog Athletes Break the Ice


Courtesy of Manan Mediratta

In a rapid counter attack, Manan Mendiratta prepares to slap the puck across the ice into the netting. His travel team, the Anaheim Junior Ducks, is one of the top three in California.

Shawyan Rooein and Tiffany Wu

Junior Kiyan Dhanidina holds up the first place Southern California Ice Hockey Finals trophy that his team, formed in June, that won after a close game (6-5). Dhanidina is not playing this year due to SAT testing and a rigorous course load but said he is looking forward to re-joining next year.

Donned in heavy uniforms and a pair of shiny silver skates, junior Kiyan Dhanidina and sophomore defender Manan Mendiratta skillfully maneuver across the ice court, guiding the small black puck in the pockets of their hockey sticks to the netted goal. Ice hockey uniquely combines the grace of ice skating with the excitement and camaraderie of a team sport.

Dhanidina formed a deep connection with the sport by attending games at local rinks with his mom, ultimately cultivating an eight-year dedication to the game. Similarly, Mendiratta, a five-year player, formed an instant connection with the sport after watching his first professional game.

For student athletes like Dhanidina and Mendiratta, ice hockey carries an intensive schedule that can cause difficulties between the balance of time consuming extracurriculars and rigorous school classes.

“I have team practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and personal training sessions on Monday, Thursday and Saturday as well with games on Sunday,” Mendiratta said. “In order to balance hockey and schoolwork, I have to stay extremely focused whenever I have time to work given the busy practice schedule.”

Despite the grueling effort required, ice hockey, like many other sports, teaches important life lessons like patience, team spirit and dedication.

“I have always been an energetic player, and sometimes that’s gotten me in trouble with the refs. After I broke my arm, I had a lot of time to think, and I saw that the coaches gave more playing time to people under control that helped the team without taking penalties,” Dhanidina said. “From the middle of January to the end of the season, I didn’t take a single penalty. This helped me change even outside of the sport because I learned that no one likes to deal with someone who always gets into trouble.”

Ice hockey can also have its drawbacks. The cost of ice hockey ranges around $4,000 for club, without traveling fees and gear costs included. In addition, students in Orange County are unable to play with their classmates with no team on campus. However, these drawbacks also serve to make the sport more enjoyable for its players.

“I love all aspects of the game. The rush of skating at 20 miles per hour alongside a puck traveling at up to 50 miles per hour is unparalleled,” Mendiratta said. “I love my team; my teammates are some of my closest friends, and those friendships could only have been created through hockey.”