100 Mile Minor Hockey League players are lacing up their skates for a return to regular games and tournaments this season.
President Roxanne Sutton said the organization and its sponsors are excited to have a normal season this year. Unlike last year when the season was restricted to practices only, players will no longer have to wear masks on the ice or stay six feet apart. Up to 50 spectators can also watch from the stands this season although masks will be required.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is for kids to be involved in group sports. Being able to have a little bit of normalcy is amazing so I’m really looking forward to this season,” Sutton said. “We have 132 kids registered in minor hockey which is up quite a bit from last year.”
The season officially started Sept. 20, with an icebreaker tournament last Friday involving teams from Williams Lake, Quesnel, Prince George, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek. The North Central District Division begins in October, meaning the teams will also travel to different towns this year.
“The kids all like to practice but they all love to play. The fact we get to do that right now is very encouraging for them,” Sutton said.
Phillip Johnston, a volunteer coach for the league whose son Rowan Johnston is the U11 team’s goalie, is also excited to get the season started.
“I know last year COVID put a damper on a lot of things and the kids got discouraged but I see this year there’s a lot of kids wanting to play again,” Johnston said. “It makes me smile because the kids need the social activity and exercise. It’s a highlight for their week.”
Sutton said they still have six spaces available in their First Shift program for children aged six to 10. No experience or equipment is required for the program which begins on Nov. 15. Registration can be done at www.firstshift.ca and is a great introduction to the sport, she said.
The league will accept new player registration throughout the year. Those interested can call their office at 250-395-4344.