Hockey in Ponoka is seeing a slow resurgence at its younger levels.
The Ponoka Minor Hockey Association (PMHA) will be icing two teams at the Initiation, Novice and Atom levels this season, while managing to maintain one team each in Peewee, Bantam and Midget to go along with the three female Lacoka teams at the Peewee, Bantam and Midget categories.
PMHA president Cam Rice noted registration numbers are up just a bit with having to add a second Initiation team.
“Typically, we only have one team, so this is definitely a step in the right direction in terms of our younger players,” he said.
“All of our lower levels are looking strong, which means things are moving toward a positive and brighter future.”
The lone item that could use a little bit of help with the pre-initiation level — the Colts.
“We are still looking for some more coaches to help as the three to five year olds need a lot more one-on-one. If anyone is interested, we will certainly entertain it,” Rice added.
One big change was made this season, according to Rice, to keep the season from getting too long. “We started a bit later this year for a variety of reasons.”
Previously, Ponoka teams began practicing two weeks earlier while many other places didn’t even have their ice surfaces ready.
“That meant our teams were skating for quite some time, so we cut back instead of feeling like the season was dragging,” Rice said, noting there will be some other tweaks to the schedule this year.
“With this being our third season in the interlock, the league is really looking at how to lessen even further the amount of travel, so it should be better this year.”
Rice added he is pleased with the new executive, which is proactive. “It’s a real pleasure to work with those kinds of people,” he stated.
The pre-season kicked off over the long weekend with the midgets falling in its game versus Daysland and in Wetaskiwin, while the peewee team lost at home to New Sarepta and the atom 1 team fell a goal short in Camrose. The bantam and atom 2 squads will start their pre-season action this coming weekend.
The regular season for atom and above will get under way on Oct. 23, while the novice teams will begin play next month.