Hockey athletes trying out for new AA minor hockey program

Hockey athletes are delving into a new Hockey Alberta development program that has put together AA hockey in the province.

PMHA president Mark Prefontaine spoke about new initiatives for the association Wednesday

PMHA president Mark Prefontaine spoke about new initiatives for the association Wednesday

Hockey athletes are delving into a new Hockey Alberta development program that has put together AA hockey in the province.

President for a second time around, Ponoka Minor Hockey Association (PMHA) president, Mark Prefontaine said there is excitement in the AA program for peewee, bantam and midget players. “(It) allows Ponoka players to go to our hub for our area, which is Wetaskiwin, to try out for AA level.”

He suggests the new program brings overall benefits to hockey in Alberta but there is some challenge for hockey associations to fill gaps in their own division.

“A goal for minor hockey as an executive is determining ways to address reacting to that change. I have to say that we’re encouraged by the AA program but it does introduce some different dynamics,” explained Prefontaine.

Another goal for PMHA is to continue to improve on player and coach development. Prefontaine suggests the more the programs benefit players, the stronger possibility they will stay with minor hockey in Ponoka.

“One of the biggest things is we want Ponoka Minor Hockey to be an attraction,” explained Prefontaine.

Numbers have remained relatively similar to last year for PMHA but the Lacoka female hockey program is seeing growth.

Last year, the North Central Minor Hockey Association implemented a penalty minutes count in an effort to reduce penalties during the season. One challenge with the program was the number of minutes for certain age groups created a challenge for teams.

Prefontaine said PMHA supports the endeavour but he expects some changes to be made in how penalty minutes are tallied.

“It’s my understanding that North Central is looking to refine that process. You could see some opportunities for improvement as that went on,” he explained.

One area the association is looking at is bringing non-parent coaches to the teams. “We think that there’s some value to that.”

He added that a player from last year wants to contribute his time to help kids learn the game and he supports that kind of initiative.

Due to issues with the ice compressor at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex, the hockey conditioning camps are delayed until town staff can fix the problem. Prefontaine said PMHA is working closely with the town to get players on the ice as soon as it is available.