Families often take a puppy or a kitten into their homes.
In Southern New Hampshire at this time of year, sometimes they take in a 6-foot young man with a hard slap shot.
The Northern Cyclones, an American junior hockey club based in Hudson, brings in players from throughout the country and around the globe — from Sweden, Russia and Italy.
They are chasing more than a puck. They are looking for a chance to catch the eye of head coaches like Dick Umile or Jerry York, get a scholarship offer and strap on their skates for one of the nation’s elite college hockey programs.
“We’ve sent players to UMaine, Merrimack, UConn in Division 1,” Cyclones co-owner and director Bill Flanagan said.
Before they get there, they will spend hours here refining their game at their home rink. But they need a place to stay while they are passing through Southern New Hampshire.
So, people like Beth and Peter Darasz of East Derry will take players into their homes for a few months, making them part of the family.
This season, it’s Dalton Carter, 19, from Ohio and Spencer Martin, 18, from Maine.
“We had always kicked around the idea of having a foreign exchange student, but we never got our act together,” Beth Darasz said.
Their own children had left home by the time her husband came across a notice in the newspaper, looking for local families to host hockey players.
She is a big hockey fan. He is mildly interested in hockey. But they found the idea appealing.
She missed baking for the kids and going to games. He missed having kids going in and out of the house.
So, they placed the call to Denise Dolloff, whose husband, Wes, is a co-owner of the Cyclones, answering her plea for help.