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Rink Master, Larry Abbott

Whether temperatures outside are brisk or balmy, Larry Abbott can almost always be found on the ice. Abbott operates Hockeytown USA in Saugus all year long, a job he’s enjoyed for nearly four decades. The rink is a common gathering space among area youth and adult groups, whether for figure skating or ice hockey, but even Abbott himself will join in the action, competing weekly in hockey matches. Here, Abbott talks to Northshore about life on the ice.

How did you get into hockey? I started when I was eight or nine years old, and just because the kids in the neighborhood were doing it. We played on the ponds. I grew up in Melrose. We played hockey on the local teams, and then progressed to the high school level, and then I went to college and played at Boston University.

What do you love most about playing? It is something I have done all my life, and I have been in the ice business all my life. So I just enjoy the game. I enjoy the people. They are very classic people, hockey players. They seem to be very genuine. I like the team aspect of it. Everyone has to pull together. It’s good exercise, and we have a lot of fun and meet a lot of nice people along the way.

How do you create an adult ice hockey team? A team captain could come in and build his own team. We have some leagues that just take individuals. We place them according to their abilities, set their schedules up, give them shirts, and away we go.

How does younger players’ style compare to the older ones’? If you’re talking the 18- to 30-year-olds, they play a little different game than the guys in their 50s and 60s. The older guys grew up when there were no face masks, so they have a little more control over their sticks. The younger guys are products of an era where they had face masks, and the game became a little faster, a little more reckless, and a little more physical. The kids that have the face masks play with a little different style than the older guys that used to play without the masks and have a little more respect for what you do with your stick.

As a Bruins fan, how was it for you witnessing their Stanley Cup win last season? Oh, it was terrific. It was a great game to watch. They played with a lot of intensity and a lot of heart. After all these years of watching other teams do it, we finally got to watch the local team win.