Buckskill’s Been Busy With Skating

The Winter Club’s ice hockey program continues to be popular
Ice hockey continues to be a big draw at the Buckskill Winter Club. Jack Graves

Sunday’s weather was pretty awful, but Saturday was a good day for skating at the Buckskill Winter Club, which, its manager, Cory Lillie, said has been doing well since opening around Thanksgiving.

The weather had been by and large conducive to skating thus far, he said. “It has a lot to do with the sun — if it’s sunny and 40 degrees, it can be tough, while if it’s not sunny and 45, it could be okay. . . . We’ve been busy. There’ve been some rainy days, but otherwise it’s been great.” 

Buckskill’s ice hockey program continues to be popular, he said, although the high school-age team that Lillie has coached in recent years is somewhat less experienced than in the past owing to the fact that five of his better players, all of whom apparently plan to continue playing the sport, are now in preparatory schools.

The roster — about half of the players are tyros — includes Egan Barzilay, Daniel Bitton, Ronan Brady, Luke Brunn, Tommy Brunn, Spencer and Vincent Cavaniola, James Farrell, Gabe Grenci, Keegan Guyer, Jake Krahe, Taylor and Rorey Murphy, Johnny Nill, Ronan O’Brien, Charlotte Reis, and Declan Sloan.

“We’re not as experienced as we have been, but the kids are improving quickly,” said Lillie, adding, in answer to a question, “Oh yeah, there’s a lot of interest in hockey among the kids. . . . I’m trying to line some games up.”

The high school-age squad practices in the early evenings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Lillie’s assistants include Tim Luzadre, who’s been teaching at the winter club since it opened more than a decade ago, Matt and Pat Rice, and, as of this year, Khloe Goncalves, a three-time national champion roller hockey goalie who added ice hockey to her repertoire four years ago.

Luzadre, Goncalves, and Matt Rice were working with a dozen or so junior hockey players Saturday morning when this writer stopped by. The clubhouse, which has a fireplace, plush couches, a television over the mantel that’s often tuned into the N.H.L. Network, and good food, has been extended to include what had been until this season an open (now weather-protected) deck overlooking the National Hockey League-size rink.

Play in Buckskill’s three-team adult hockey league, with 14 on each roster, began last week. Games are played Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

There are skating classes for children and adults, and figure-skating instruction by Krista Bussi, a 30-year-old Buffalo native who skated for five years with Disney on Ice, and who is in her second year at the winter club, and Brittni Svanberg, a recent Boston University graduate, as well. The weekly schedule can be found online at buckskillwinterclub.com.

“A lot of the kids I’m coaching now I coached in roller hockey,” the 20-year-old, 5-foot-1-inch Goncalves said, as she filled a large bag with goalie equipment. She and the Rice brothers began as roller hockey players, first at the East Hampton Town Youth Park’s outdoor rink in Amagansett and, afterward, across the street in the Sportime Arena, but have come to prefer the speed of the game played on ice.

“I like the mobility you have on the ice, the ability you have to cut down angles and go quickly across the net,” said Goncalves, who, as aforesaid, began tending goal in ice hockey four years ago after having played roller hockey since the age of 8. 

The high school-age team lacked a goalie last year, though Conclaves has several young aspirants under her wing now, including 10-year-old Tommy Brunn, who despite his tender years tends the nets for the team, and Jacob Fritz, an 8-year-old from Bridgehampton who, when asked what it was he liked most about being a goalie, replied with a smile, “All the gear.”

“Hockey’s definitely on a good footing here,” said Goncalves, who is at the club four days a week, “though I wish this rink were here the year round.”