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Nanaimo minor hockey implementing new ideas

For this season, registration numbers are up slightly for minor hockey, with enrolment sitting currently at 788 players.

Another season of hockey is now in full swing. We’ve already had the World Cup of Hockey and now the regular NHL season has officially kicked off so we can settle in for another long campaign. Let’s just hope that this year a Canadian-based team can make it into the playoffs…

Meanwhile, local minor hockey teams have been on the ice for several weeks. Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association office administrator Vicky Long reports that the season actually started at the end of August and will now run through until spring break in March.

For this season, registration numbers are up slightly for minor hockey, with enrolment sitting currently at 788 players. More are still trickling in, including a significant number of out of town transfers.

Heading the executive board of NMHA this year is returning president Jamie Davis. Assisting him are vice-presidents Janelle Olson and Kim Darbyshire. Serving as secretary-treasurer is Yvette McKay, while Christie MacDonald has been busy as the association’s registrar. Also on the board are Cathy Coulson, Dave van Deventer, Matt Caillet, Tom Russell, Meaghan Pranke and Jody Windley handles ways and means. Joe Coburn is the development coordinator and top coaching jobs are held by David Hutchinson as goaltender head coach, Brian Sugiyama as recreational head coach and Trent Kaese as competitive head coach.

The youngest age group in minor hockey is the initiation H1 and H2 division, involving a total of six teams at the 5-6 year-old level. Then comes initiation H3 and H4 (formerly novice), with eight teams of 7-8 year-olds. Nicole Sugiyana and Lesley Winchell are the directors overseeing the initiation teams, which now are part of B.C. Hockey’s innovative cross-ice program. It’s an attempt to better teach the foundation skills of hockey while letting the players enjoy the game more. So rather than full-ice hockey with kids chasing the puck more than touching it, playing cross-ice on a small surface results in more direction changes, puck touches and pass attempts. In fact, shots per player are six times higher for each player. Similar to mini-soccer, it’s an innovation that really makes sense and will hopefully lead to more long term player development.

On full ice, the atom recreational division consists of six teams of 9-10 year-olds, with Kyla Hartnell the director in charge. Gord Nowicki heads up the peewee recreational group of seven teams involving players aged 11-12. There are currently six bantam recreational teams of 13-14 year-olds, overseen by Olson and seven teams of recreational midget teams of 15-17 year-olds under the direction of Darbyshire.

For NMHA boys’ competitive rep teams, Glenn Cook is the director in charge of two teams at the atom level, three at both peewee and bantam levels and two at the midget level. Nicole Waugh is the NMHA director looking after female teams and there are recreational squads for both the bantam and midget age groups.

A number of tournaments are planned during the coming season. Among those, Nanaimo will be hosting the B.C. Hockey provincial championships for peewee Tier 1 teams on March 19-23 at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.

For more information on NMHA, contact the association office at 250-754-5010.

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.