Aces of the Ice

Juniors James Thomas Brown and Josh Farrell both started their ice hockey careers at a young age. At the time they joined, the team was called the Little Rock Chaos, but two years ago the name was changed to the Little Rock Aces.

It all started back when Brown was in second grade. He said, “One of my good friends, Zack Banko, taught me how to skate, and that’s what really pushed me to want be on the hockey team. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but Zack would end up becoming one of my best friends.”

Although Farrell joined a year later, he said, “Really, I started my journey to be on the hockey team back in first grade. That’s when I learned how to roller skate, and I used that skill when I wanted to join the hockey team.”

One reason Brown grew so fond of this sport over the years was because of the bond of the team. He said, “Our team has each others’ backs. If we see one of our teammates getting treated unfairly by the other team, it’s gloves off, benches cleared, no exceptions. And that’s another reason I love it so much. It has the physicality of football and the finesse of basketball.” He also said, “I love helping out some of our less experienced players like Griffin Brown and Arden Seamons. All of these different attributes bring us together. It’s like the brotherhood of Catholic High.”

The team is, in fact, made up of many local players from around Little Rock, but it also has players from around the world. Today there are still players on the team from Russia, Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic, and Canada. It’s all of these people from different cultures that make the team so diverse.

What Farrell loves the most about playing hockey is the environment. He said, “The feeling of that cool ice at anytime of the year is so nice.” But it’s not just the ice that makes up this beloved environment, but also the people. He said, “Our coaches put so much trust in us, which they should, because we all know what we’re doing. And that trust between the coaches and the players is so important. It helps us all feel relaxed. Hockey isn’t taken as seriously as other sports (that I’ve noticed), and that’s not a bad thing. But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard work as well. The season starts in October and ends in March. We practice all throughout the off season as well. We have practices on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sunday mornings. Then for our tournament, we have to travel as far as places from Dallas to Atlanta. It’s all of these things that make me love it so much”

Hockey is not all fun and games for Brown either, and has even scared him at times. He said, “There was a kid on another team that was being aggressive towards me and the rest of our players. At one point he came up while we were playing and tripped me. And this wasn’t an accident. He pulled my skate right from under me and I slid head-first into the boards. But the kid that tripped me was under me. I got up and looked at him and thought he was dead. He didn’t get up and his muscles were extended like you’d see on a dead body. I found out he was unconscious thankfully, but nevertheless, it scared me at the time.”

The LR Aces is the smallest team in their league, by people, and by funding. Although this doesn’t make it easier for the players, they choose not to let it affect them. In 2013, they won first place in the Southern Youth Travel Hockey League. Brown said, “We’ve been through so much together, and we’ve done so many great things. I can’t wait to see what we do next.”

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