By Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye
Canada is a hockey nation and many parents want their kids give it a try but are hesitant because of the fees involved.
Ponoka Minor Hockey is seeing some growth in younger registrations possibly due to a new promotion from the association, waiving registration fees for first-time minor hockey players. The idea came from the board of directors to entice new players to the program.
President Mark Prefontaine said it is something the board saw as a positive move.
“We did get some really good feedback from those who took advantage of it for sure. We probably would have liked to see higher numbers, but I would give you that response whatever we got.”
Prefontaine said the board of directors understands the expense and commitment involved with hockey and they are willing to try new things to keep parents and players excited about the game. Money is only one aspect of joining minor hockey, and the time commitment is another major part of involvement.
The hockey arena boasts renovations including a larger main entrance, renovated washrooms, new locker rooms and connecting hallway Prefontaine feels will make it an inviting venue for teams playing in Ponoka.
There are five tournaments planned so far for Ponoka, which generally are not hard to fill up. Prefontaine said Ponoka Minor Hockey’s reputation is such that other teams can rely on the town for a good experience and the changes to the arena will only help bring teams to town.
Ponoka Minor Hockey is also in its second year of a girls’ program coach Lindsey Peters said is exploding all over the province. There is more demand for all-girls’ teams and the Ponoka team’s coaches plan to set high goals for the season. Peters said they will share a tournament with the bantam B boys’ team and three other girls’ teams will attend.
“Women’s hockey will continue to grow in the province and we would like to increase our players so we can have more teams,” said Peters.
Last year they placed fifth in peewee provincials, which for a first year team shows some promise and they will play several all girls’ tournaments in Alberta this season.
Prefontaine said the season is getting started and they are looking forward to the games to come. The question of hosting provincials has been brought forward and the teams are discussing if it is something they would like to commit to.