Playing hockey for the love of the game is the mantra of the Ponoka Recreation Hockey Association (PRHA).
A special showcase was held Dec. 1 at the Ponoka arena where all eight teams hosted a special game against one of their competitors, however, the focus of the day was on playing the game and learning new skills.
Board member Patrick Lentz said the association sees growth every year, especially with the younger athletes. For parents with more than one child, the way games and practice nights are set up is ideal.
“Teamwork and having fun is the number one goal,” said Lentz.
He added that there is a strong board and group of parents who want to see things go well. Parents, plus an independent committee came together to host the PRHA day.
Eight teams in age groups of 5 to 7 years, 8 to 10 years, 11 to 14 years and 15 to 17 years, each invited another team to play against. It was a busy day of hockey with games starting at 8 a.m. going to about 8 p.m.
A couple other events were on the go including a food drive with proceeds to go to the Ponoka Food Bank.
“The excitement for me is a little bit of competitiveness as well,” said Lentz.
“People really rally behind it, especially the little guys.”
Another area Lentz has seen growth is a strong turnout of referees signing up to officiate games.
“It’s just grown and grown because you (referees) don’t get yelled at,” he stated.
When mistakes are made in recreation hockey, it becomes a source of learning rather than fans yelling at them.
Learning the game rather than recording points, statistics and game records — there are no playoffs at the end of the season — is another reason why they have seen so much growth, suggested Lentz.