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Wednesday April 16, 2014
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Home Ice Advantage



Toughness matters in hockey--and the girls on the Chelsea Lightning know it. Today the fourteen-and-under team will face a St. Clair Shores team that beat them 6-1 the day before in an away game. But now they're on home ice, and they're ready to play hard.

Head coaches Neal Boudette and Rick Wesche, who each have daughters on the team, formed the Lightning this year--the first girls' team at the Coliseum in four years. Boudette, who lives in Ann Arbor, says their daughters had been miserable playing for a "screamer" coach in the Ann Arbor Amateur Hockey Association, so he and Wesche, of Saline, decided to start fresh in Chelsea.

The two-rink Arctic Coliseum has welcomed transplants from Ann Arbor and surrounding areas--and a loyal following of locals--since it opened in 2000. Thirty men's league teams, seventeen Chelsea house and travel youth hockey teams, a figure skating club, learn-to-skate and learn-to-play-hockey programs--and Chelsea, Saline, and Pinckney's high school teams--all share Coliseum ice.

Boudette--who also plays men's masters league hockey at the Coliseum and has a younger daughter who continues to play at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube--says Chelsea's arena is a "clean, inviting, and comfortable" place to play. He also says its hockey association is straightforward and easy to work with compared with Ann Arbor's "more political" environment. (The Ann Arbor Amateur Hockey Association is recovering from a nearly $1 million embezzlement by its former bookkeeper, Kimberly Kay Knight of Chelsea.)

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