Things are looking up for the Ponoka Recreation Hockey Association (PRHA), which has seen so much growth its teams have full rosters.
To celebrate a positive year, the association held a special invitational Dec. 2 at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex, explained president Greg Hutniak. It was the first time doing an invitational.
From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the association’s eight teams competed with other recreation hockey teams in a no-hit, no-slapshot day. “We decided that we wanted to promote rec. hockey as best we could.”
“We also wanted to use this day to give back to the sport and give back to the community,” said Hutniak, pointing out that they held 50/50 draws and a special food raising challenge for the Ponoka Food Bank.
“We asked our visiting teams and our home teams to come out and support the Ponoka Food Bank and kind of make it a bit of a challenge,” he explained.
Along with the food bank challenge, players from the Ponoka Stampeders came out to help referee the games. They showcased the Stampeders by helping referee in Stampeders’ uniforms.
“This year we grew by at least 25 to 30 per cent,” said Hutniak.
There’s 152 athletes this season, up from 124 last season, in the PRHA, which meant the association had to add two more teams to its roster.
Hutniak feels this type of growth means the association is doing the right thing for its members. The board of directors has grown and interest in the power skating programs hosted by PRHA is strong.
“This year the board has put together a program that for each of the different age categories we want to focus on certain skill development,” said Hutniak.
The kids get a chance to learn about team sports and the game of hockey without the distraction of hits and slap shots, he added.
Demand is high, said Hutniak, pointing out that some players had to be turned away this year. That being said, he expects to see two more teams added to the association’s list next year.
“Most of our teams are at 20 players,” said Hutniak.