Mandatory changes to limit the ice size for games are coming to hockey’s youngest age category

Mandatory changes to limit the ice size for games are coming to hockey’s youngest age category

Ponoka minor hockey unsure about Initiation direction

Even though Ponoka Minor Hockey knew mandatory changes were coming, there remains uncertainty about just how these will be implemented.

Even though Ponoka Minor Hockey knew some mandatory changes were coming, there remains some uncertainty about just how these will be implemented.

Late last month, Hockey Canada came out with a new policy for its Initiation (5-6 year old players) program that all minor hockey associations must adhere to when the new season begins in September.

The program, which was started 35 years ago, had always recommended the use of cross-ice or half-ice play for games though the actual delivery was left up to individual associations.

For the Ponoka Minor Hockey Association (PMHA), the mandate change was something it had been expecting.

“It is mandatory for the 2017-18 hockey season and PMHA will follow suit, of course. As an association, we have been looking at this very idea for the past few years, since we knew it would be coming and a lot of other places were already doing it,” explained Harley Shoemaker, PMHA division director for novice/initiation.

“We already have our Novice and Initiation teams play on our smaller ice surface to promote the same idea (as the changes) about a smaller surface creating more opportunity for each player to handle the puck and be part of the play to encourage teamwork, personal development and, most importantly, loads of fun for the kids.

“However, as this news just arrived last week, we have not had an opportunity to discuss any other aspects or possible change at the board level.”

Shoemaker added the association can see the merit in having the reduced playing surface, but no one is quite sure how Ponoka’s smaller sized rink will play into the situation.

“We have no choice and will comply, however a lot of people like playing our rink and so we need to find out what can be done to utilize that ice surface,” he said.

The issue will be discussed tonight (Wednesday) at the PMHA board meeting, where Shoemaker stated it’s likely the board will look to approach Hockey Alberta for some direction on continuing to use the small rink in some fashion for the program.

Whether that would involve moving to using bumpers and playing on two-thirds ice or figuring out a way to keep playing on the entire small rink, Shoemaker wasn’t sure. However, he did state that going cross-ice on that surface wouldn’t work as it is far too compact for game play.

For its part, Hockey Alberta will be engaging minor hockey associations over the next few months about the changes, which will include an in-person meeting with all minor hockey association presidents and executive members during the north and south spring conferences set for early May. There will also be in-person meetings held with initiation program directors in September, prior to the season starting, in order to further facilitate the changes.

 

Ponoka Minor Hockey