100 Mile & District Minor Hockey Association administrator Kersti Toews says this year’s registration is about the same as last year’s numbers — just under 200.
“That’s good because we were up slightly last year primarily due to the First Shift program we ran for the first time.”
Noting the association is running the program again this year, Toews says First Shift is for children who are six to 10 years old who have never played minor hockey before.
First Shift is a program that is accessible, affordable, safe and fun, she says. The registration is $199, which includes a full set of equipment, expert fitting and a welcome event.
The children get a one-hour, on-ice experience a week for six weeks. It includes skating skills, puck handling, passing and shooting exercises, basic motor movement patterns and fun games so participants have a full hockey experience.
It’s highly successful, Toews says, adding there are already 30 youngsters enrolled in this year’s program, which starts in mid-November.
Minor Hockey has one carded rep team this year — Bantam Tier 4, which plays in the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association. This team will have a bye into the provincial tournament.
She adds there are Peewee, Bantam and Midget recreational teams and they play in the Thompson Cariboo Super League.
There are two Atom teams this year and they will play in the Cariboo South Atom League.
There is also an all-female Bantam/Peewee travel team.
“It’s giving females an opportunity to play on an all-female hockey team. They will just be travelling and playing exhibitions games. They won’t be playing in a league specifically, but it’s a great opportunity for female players.”
All of these teams will be doing a bit of travelling to play against other teams.
“In the olden days when we didn’t have enough players or anyone to play, our teams just played each other, and that got kind of dry.
“So now, we have the opportunity to play in these leagues, which creates more playing opportunities for the kids. There’s a little bit of travelling involved, but we get way more variety for the kids.”
Toews notes the road trips add to the hockey experience for the young players.
“It has created some competition between the teams in the leagues, which is always fun.
“That’s the kicker. It’s all about fun and fair play and creating lifelong hockey players.”
She notes there are also about 60 youngsters in the Hockey 1 to 4 who are five to eight-year-olds.
“These are our smallest little hockey stars and they do a mandated BC Hockey cross-ice program, using a smaller ice surface to allow the kids more touches on the puck.”
She notes Tim Hortons really supports this group, along with Central GM and Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza.
Toews says most of last year’s First Shift participants shifted into minor hockey when the program was finished, so that boosted the numbers.
She adds the increased registration numbers is encouraging.
“However, ice costs and the cost of doing business go up every year. Unfortunately, based on registration numbers, we can’t afford to raise our registration fees by too much.
“We do get support from the province of B.C. through gaming grants, but definitely sponsorship and donations to Minor Hockey are hurting a little bit — maybe because of this summer’s wildfire season.”
Toews notes league games are starting this week.
“We have the board covered, but we can always use volunteers, whether they are coaches, referees or on-ice helpers,” she explains
Anyone interested in helping can call Toews at 250-395-4344.