To survive as a professional hockey player for more than a dozen years, Andre Lacroix had to know a thing or two about taking a firm stance on the ice. Now as the director of the hockey program at the Oakland Ice Center, he has found that he sometimes has to be just as forceful -- in nudging quickly improving players to a higher level of play."I watch them closely, and if I believe they have gotten too good for a particular playing level, they've played their last game for that team and I ask them to move up to our next league level," Lacroix says. "I don't care if all their friends are on the team. I won't cheat the other players. It has to be an even playing field."
The 57-year-old former Hartford Whaler and Chicago Blackhawk player is especially proud of the ice center's over-40 league. "There's a lot of people out here who are from the East Coast and they grew up with hockey leagues like this," he says. "When we opened the center and got the hockey program rolling, we really filled a void. People wanted something like this for years." From children's programs on up, Lacroix oversees a total of more than one thousand players in organized teams -- serving as everything from schedule-maker and dues collector to referee.
At the upcoming Battle by the Bay hockey tournament (Friday through Monday, February 14-17), more than thirty teams will compete in a tournament that will keep the hockey players on the ice virtually around the clock. Lacroix, who estimates he spends up to 75 hours a week at the rink, will be there for every minute of the event. But he wouldn't have it any other way. -- Tony Hayes
Shoot the Works
Cal's women's basketball team has something to prove this season, and this week's pair of local derbies against UCLA (Thursday, February 20, 7 p.m.) and USC (Saturday, February 22, 12 noon) at Haas Pavilion gives them a chance to set things straight with the southern part of the state. In her third year at Cal, coach Caren Horstmeyer's squad has its usual United Nations flavor, with center Timea Ivanyi (Hungary), guard Nihan Anaz (Turkey), center Olga Volkova (Ukraine), and forward Amber White (Los Angeles) figuring strongly in the Golden Bears' rebound to hoops respectability. But first they've got to get above .500. To learn more, visit calbears.ocsn.com -- Kelly Vance
The California Hiking and Outdoor Society (CHAOS) is a group of adventure-minded hikers and trekkers from UC and the surrounding area that meets in Berkeley and then sets out to roam the world -- or at least the Sierra. Tonight (Wednesday, February 19), CHAOS presents its Spring Slide Show, a collection of slides taken on recent wilderness outings, set to music. Everyone in the slides looks stoked, happy, and ready for more chocolate -- sitting on top of the world. According to CHAOS social secretary Peter Spoerl, it's a fun evening for newcomers to learn more about the club and its activities. The slide show begins at 8 p.m. in Room 105 of Northgate Hall (near the corner of Hearst and Euclid) on the UC Berkeley campus. The event is wheelchair-accessible. -- Kelly Vance