SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Hockey is fast, there’s action — and if you’re sitting in the stands it’s exciting to watch.
But the fact that Shreveport even has a hockey team is something that's surprising to most.
“My first expectations is why is there hockey in Louisiana," said defenseman, C.J. McGee. "It’s 400 degrees down here.”
That’s what C.J. first thought when he got a call about playing hockey for the Mudbugs. The New Yorker is no stranger to the game though. He grew up in a hockey family and started skating at the age of three.
“Just growing up all my best friends were always on my hockey team, always at the rink with them, always had a really good time,” he said. "So just the guys at the rink really made hockey fun for me, and I just wanted to keep doing that.
Which leads us to George’s Pond inside the Hirsch Coliseum. CJ is now a defenseman for the Mudbugs, and a perfect person to show me how to play hockey.
Who better to also help than Mudbugs head coach Jason Campbell — but some might also know him as Soupy.
He’s no stranger to the game or this team either. If you grew up watching the Mudbugs you might remember he played seven seasons with the team, and was a former finals MVP.
So once Coach Campbell and C.J. showed me how to properly hold my stick, we learned some basic skating skills. I learned one of the most important rules of hockey is to always keep your stick on the ice.
After I got skating down, I learned how to handle my hockey stick. Then I learned another big rule, don’t look down.
I practiced some passing drills with C.J. and then the cones came, and one thing I learned is that if you need a good motivator, Coach Campbell is definitely your guy.
While I stumbled my way through the ice, I could see that hockey was a game C.J. truly loved.
“Being on the ice everyday with your best friends in the world is just the best thing ever," he said. "Coming to the rink everyday, there’s nothing bad about it, and then playing games in front of all of our fans is just possibly the greatest thing about being here.”
But one of C.J.'s biggest motivators is his 14-year-old brother Mikey.
“He’s got to be my best friend,” he said. “We spend all day together at the house. I’ll babysit him sometimes. I’ll pick him up from school, get him on the bus. He’ll sleep in my bed sometimes when we’re at home we’ll sit and watch YouTube videos together. We just do everything together.”
Mikey has down syndrome, and when CJ was offered to play here, he admits he was worried.
“That was one of the big decisions about coming down here,” he said. “It was hard to go and leave him, but talking with my family and my billet dad now he said whenever he wants to come down, we have extra space for him at the house so that definitely helped out and made it a little bit easier.”
Hockey definitely had me out of breath and tired, but once I got the hang of things, I learned how fun this sport really can be.
When the season is over C.J. will head off to Quinnipiac University where he committed to playing division one hockey.
While his love for the game has transformed into a career, he knows it can be possible for any kid out there who wants to do the same.
“Just go for it," he said. "I mean you got your whole life to live, you might as well try and do it now.”
On 2 p.m. on Saturday March 16th the Mudbugs will host it’s alumni game against the Dallas Stars. Media personality will also play in the alumni game.