Black Elk Hockey camp may return to Ponoka next year

A popular hockey camp may be returning to Ponoka next year.

Erin Williamson, public relations director for Ponoka Minor Hockey and Greg Watson from Black Elk Hockey came before Ponoka town council on Nov. 12.

Their request was if the town could prepare ice in the arena for Aug. 16 next year to allow Black Elk Hockey to run a camp. As many minor hockey coaches are teachers, that date is the latest a camp could be held in order to have enough available coaches.

“The facility is just perfect … we’d love to bring it back to Ponoka,” said Watson, adding the outdoor rink lends itself perfectly for a full-day camp.

As “Ponoka” is the Blackfoot word for “elk,” the camp gets its name in part from the town.

“Bringing the camp back to Ponoka is not only one of my goals … it’a part of the DNA of our camp,” he said.

Mayor Rick Bonnett responded although he wasn’t sure what spurred the camp’s move to Lacombe, he didn’t “feel that this council would be against that (returning).”

Part of the reason for the move away from Ponoka a few years ago was loss of endorsement from the Ponoka Minor Hockey board, but those issues were resolved and are ” in order now,” said Watson.

“That is something that is missing from the community,” said Bonnett, adding the town would like to make more use of the ice surfaces.

“I’d be happy to see you guys back,” said Coun. Kevin Ferguson, adding his son was part of the program and it was “amazing.”

Watson says Black Elk Hockey would ideally like to be here in Ponoka for the next 20 years, rather than a rotation between communities as it has been in the last few years, holding the camp in either Lacombe or Blackfalds.

“Besides emotional attachment, the facility is really ideal,” he said, adding it would allow for dry land training, yoga and injury prevention clinics.

Bonnett says the town would have to consider the request as a budget item, but would possibly have an answer for them at the beginning of December.

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