SDPD, Gulls players team up to bring street hockey to Southeast community

SAN DIEGO -  The San Diego Gulls have the hottest team in town with a six-game winning streak, but even on their day off, they work.

Players spent Monday afternoon playing street hockey with dozens of kids and several police officers.

The idea behind the event sparked a few months back between San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and Gulls Head Coach Dallas Eakins as a way to bring the community together. Dozens of kids came out to Southcrest Park and Rec center just to play.

"Mostly joy," said Marcus Pettersson, Gulls defenseman. "They think it's awesome and fun to be out here and that's what I feel like it's all about. First and foremost have fun and then practice your skills later. Their all having fun out here and so are we."

Also jumping in on the fun were dozens of police officers, including Chief Zimmerman.

"To see the smiles on our kids faces, our officers' faces, the Gulls players," said Zimmerman. "Everybody's just out here having a great time and this is just what it's all about."

While the inaugural event gives kids a chance to learn hockey from the professionals, Zimmerman adds that it's also a chance to build relationships.

"Most of them have never held a hockey stick before but to do that with our police officers in a fun, friendly environment that just builds trust," said Zimmerman.  "I'll tell you it's just a win for all of us today in San Diego. This is a great event, many more to come."

Gulls players say being a role model to those in the community is a privilege and that events like these further put that honor in perspective.

"To kind of come in and show guidance to kids and just try to teach them another sport, it's awesome," said Gulls center Mitch Hults. "You don't get feelings like that much and to be able to do that is pretty cool."

Between the kids and the players, it's hard to tell who had more fun playing street hockey.

"It's an awesome experience," said Hults. "I touched on it earlier, especially to come out on a day off, we don't do much anyway and to come out and make a kid smile and there's not a better thing in the world I would say."

The Gulls will look to continue their six-game winning streak Wednesday night when they host the Bakersfield Condors at 7 p.m.