Minor hockey season gets underway

The Skills and Development Camp this weekend at the Ashcroft arena kicks off hockey season.

Pretty soon it’ll be hockey night in Ashcroft again as minor hockey gets ready for another season.

Lewis Kinvig is looking forward to another good year. The Thompson Cariboo Minor Hockey Associaion (TCMHA) president says enrolment has steadily increased from eight or nine years ago when there were only 25 players enrolled.

This year there are about 90 so far, with more younger children enrolled than older.

That flies in the face of other minor hockey associations that are struggling with declining enrolment. Kinvig says he thinks the biggest thing in TCMHA’s favour is being able to keep the costs affordable for families. He says the Village is really good about helping the association keep the ice costs down.

“Between fundraising and volunteering, it helps us keep rates low,” he says.

There’s a misconception, Kinvig says, that rates are high. That can be the case, he says, if the child wants to play in a competative league.

This weekend the association is hosting a Skills and Development Camp with professional coach Robin Deitch. Each of the teams will get ice time with the coach. The camp is paid for through fundraising by volunteers.

Minor hockey wouldn’t happen without volunteers, he says. They do the fundraisers, concession, the sandbagging.

He says he’s involved because his children want to play. He played minor hockey in Ashcroft as a boy and there were a lot of people who kept it going then. Now it’s his turn to pitch in.

“It’s important to have these programs and events for children,” he said. “I think we need to keep the kids active these days. We’re a small community and we need things like hockey, curling, and soccer as draws. We want to keep the population here.”

Like all recreational facilities, the arena doesn’t make any money for the Village. In fact, it loses money. But it’s an important facility for the community, nonetheless.

Playing team sports has benefits for future work ethics and personal relationships, says Kinvig. For one thing, it teaches you how to get along with others.

“I like coaching,” he said, “and seeing the kids develop their skills and have fun. That’s what it’s all about.”

Enrolment takes place in the Spring right after the season finishes. He says two years ago they only had 17 players registered by the end of September. They added a late fee and pushed early registration. The association has other groups they have to give their numbers to so they can all be insured – and no one goes onto the ice until they’re insured.

For those who haven’t been paying attention to the calendar, late registrations are still being accepted, but players aren’t allowed on the ice until the registration is paid.

The association is offering Bauer’s First Shift again this year for youngsters who have never played hockey. The program outfits each child with hockey equipment and teaches them the basics.

Kinvig said last year they had 35 kids in the program., five of whom are now playing on teams in the league. This year they have 10 so far. The program was a lot of work last year, he says, but it was also a lot of fun.

Fun is what it’s all about, he says. He doesn’t disagee with winning, but not at all costs. On the other hand, he says, “It’s no fun getting whooped all the time.”

Ashcfroft is hosting another Atoms tournament this year in late January, because last year’s turned out to be so successful.

Before that, the PeeWees kick off the season at home with the first game in the arena against 100 Mile House on Oct. 18 at 12:30.

The association is still looking for coaches – as well as other volunteers – because several coaches are needed for each team. There is a coaching clinic on  Nov. 1.