Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • May 13, 2021
A Real Diamond In The Campbell Industrial Park Rough: Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas In Its 10th Year

It is a jewel, the Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas.

Yet, most people on Oahu don’t know the two-rink, state-of-the-art facility sits there in Campbell Industrial Park.

It opened in 2010 and — up until COVID-19 suspended operations last March — was a bastion of activity and a wonderful outlet for much-needed exercise and fun for island hockey players.

 

A Team USA player got a shot off against NSPYR Hawaii’s Chris Latronic
in the 2018 AAU Junior Olympics tournament. (Image credit: Hawaii Hockey).

 

Lately, and with nowhere else to go, a handful of the around 500 inline players (who play in one or more of the various youth and six adult divisions) have been hitting the streets for pickup games. But inline hockey pucks don’t slide nearly as well on pavement or cement than they do on the IceCourt at KIHA, so there are many who don’t bother. Still, most of the players are seriously JONESING for hockey. And, as everyone knows in these pandemic times, crowds of any kind are not recommended, so the participation of every session is limited.

And so the players wait patiently for a breakthrough in the county’s restrictions on gatherings. Most are hoping KIHA will open again soon.

Personally, I dream of again showing up on a Sunday morning (pickup game day) and looking out at the empty court and letting my imagination run at how much it looked like the glassy, frozen ponds of my youth. But unlike those days of yore when everything depended on the weather, this pseudo ice was the same perfect sheet every time I visited it in the last 10 years. And, unlike ice rinks, you don’t have to wait for the Zamboni to finish scraping the old surface and laying down a new frozen one. Just perfection all the time.

KIHA was the brainchild of Richard Pentecost, whose sons used to play in the Oahu Inline Hockey League at the outdoor Hawaii Kai rink in the early 2000s. He noticed that Hawaii teams — who were also playing on outdoor rinks at Kaneohe, Pearl Harbor, Mililani, Kapaa, Kihei, Kona and elsewhere — were often lagging behind mainland teams when it came to competition in national tournaments. He noticed that the mainland teams all had experience playing on those “perfect sheets” indoors and were at an advantage.

 

Maui’s Joey Konstantinos, center, eludes Oahu’s Ross Nakagawa, right, during
the 2018 AAU Junior Olympics hockey tournament at Kapolei Inline Hockey Arenas.

 

And so, in 2010, Pentecost opened KIHA and that’s where all serious Oahu inline hockey players flocked. He and hockey director Jami Yoder ran (and plan to run, when it opens again) four seasons per year as well as a tournament every year. In 2016 and 2018, KIHA teams hosted the AAU Junior Olympics and greeted squads from the mainland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Colombia, Great Britain, Brazil and elsewhere.

Within the last few years, Pentecost added public skating on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and — by all accounts — it was doing really well with huge crowds before the COVID-19 shutdown. According to several KIHA employees, Waianae’s Max Holloway of UFC fame was an occasional skater at KIHA. Holloway, by the way, improved to 22-6 on Saturday, winning by unanimous decision over Calvin Kattar.

Yup, everyone, let’s get Max out there for some hockey!!!!!

KIHA owner Richard Pentecost with Hawaii hockey player Lance Hamilton,
who is now playing ice hockey in New York with the Elmira
Junior Enforcers of the United States Premier Hockey League.

 

One interesting thing to me is that KIHA is such a diamond in the rough. Many on Oahu don’t know about it. For anyone reading this, it’s located at 1057 Opakapaka St. in Kapolei in Campbell Industrial Park. It’s on the same street as the Long Drugs distribution center off of Kalaeloa Blvd.

No celebrations for KIHA’s 10th anniversary were held in April because the facility had already been closed until further notice for a month. Perhaps, if COVID-19 slows its roll, KIHA’s 11th year will be an active one.

 

A view of KIHA’s front entrance.

 

And most people who walk into KIHA for the first time can’t tell that it’s 10 years old. Pentecost keeps the place spotless and there is always attention to detail. Also, if he sees you chewing gum he will ask that you to put it in the trash can.

 

Footage from a 2014 tournament at KIHA.

 

Lots of people who never dreamed of playing hockey are doing it now. One of them is David Herzog.

“My family and I found a love we did not know existed,” said Herzog, who plays in the 35-and-over division. “My wife (Lucy) stumbled onto this place called KIHA roughly two years after its opening in 2010. After returning from an off-island business trip, she said we need to take our son (Drake) to hockey practice. This was a great surprise for me to hear. I was amazed when I arrived. I felt the excitement of a child while experiencing the kids’ hockey practice, enough excitement for me to join the adult league. In doing so, I have fallen in love with this sport in which I was a complete newcomer.

“Richard Pentecost is a visionary figure,” Herzog continued. “By creating KIHA, he has shaped the lives of many sports-active families on island. Richard’s kind and pleasant way about him is known to all. He greets everyone with aloha, a smile and friendly banter. You always feel you have a friend when he’s around. I owe a lot to Richard. Had he not built KIHA, I would have never experienced the joy of playing hockey, met and forged everlasting friendships and have had the pleasure of knowing such a great individual.”

 

KIHA veteran hockey player Jon Chun was put side by side with the
KIHA Warrior rink logo in this graphic. (Image credit: Hawaii Hockey).

 

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Cindy Luis wrote about KIHA less than a year after its April 2010 opening. She interviewed Kimo Chun a Mililani Inline Hockey Association (outdoor) veteran, who, at the time, was a 16-year veteran of the sport. Make that 26 years now.

“It’s really nice to be inside,” Chun said back then. “It’s been a family sport for us. I met my wife (Kiyomi) on my first team. What I like is that it’s real fast paced and exciting. Hockey is more like a mainland sport, but I’ve been playing for 16 years, ever since my brother (Jon) and I got sticks for Christmas.”

Chun may have said it best back then. And it fits all too well now:

“It’s really nice to be inside.”

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