Recreation hockey combines fun and sportsmanship

Hockey players in the Ponoka Recreation Hockey League go so fast they look like a blur skating around the ice.

Hockey players in the Ponoka Recreation Hockey League go so fast they look like a blur skating around the ice.

By CHARLES TWEED

It’s our national pastime. We huddle around televisions to watch it and plow snow to play it; and the Ponoka Recreation Hockey League wants to make sure every kid in town gets an opportunity to lace up the skates and score that first goal.

“What we’ve done for the last six or seven years is tried to get all the kids, no matter what their skill level is, with everyone on the ice — it’s all about having fun, with skills too,” said coach Greg Neilson.

Dylan Heltman, a player with the under-10 age group, was all smiles when asked about getting on the ice. “It’s so fun and Coach Greg is awesome. He’s teaching us how to play hockey.”

There is no question the league is a huge success and continues to get better each year. The program, which consists of groups from age five all the way up to 17, gets kids out on the ice a couple of times a week with most games being played on the weekends.

“We got free subs after we beat Sylvan,” said Connor Stiles, before taking off for a shift. Don’t worry, the subs aren’t part of a pay-for-play scenario, but instead a fringe benefit of having a coach who owns a Subway in town.

Neilson said the goal is to allow every kid, no matter what the age, to learn the ins and outs of the game.

“If one of their friends says, ‘Hey you wanna play hockey?’ they know the basics from rec hockey and can play.”

For more information on the league or to sign up check out the organizations website at ponokarechockey.ca