The new Newfoundland and Labrador Ball Hockey Association (NLBHA) president says a minor program for the greater St. John’s area is long overdue.
Now it has become a reality.
“It’s been in the works for a while,” said president Steve Power of St. John’s.
Power, who put together an under-19 team that competed at the junior nationals last year, said he doesn’t know how ball hockey survived all these years without a minor program.
“The players who I took away only had three weeks notice but we competed pretty well. If we had a league here at home I think we’d do really well.
“There’s never been a real official youth league in town,” Power noted. “I know there have been times when a couple of guys took a stab at getting it going but nothing like a situation where you could pick a team to go to the nationals.”
Power said ball hockey is considered “almost a cult sport” in this province and he’d like to change that perception.
Power said most youngsters take to ball hockey very easily because they’ve played street hockey and “that’s where the sport was born.”
Although Power is the Avalon Minor Hockey Association’s technical director, he’s one of several people who believe kids shouldn’t be playing hockey all the year around.
“I don’t mind saying, even coming from my ice hockey background that I really don’t like this kids on the ice all year.
“Ball hockey, like soccer, is a great cross-over sport and I think it’s great if we can find something for these kids to do in the summer months other than put them on the ice.”
Power also points out that ball hockey is a great conditioning sport for those who want to play hockey.
“I think playing ball hockey will help them with their ice hockey.”
Power said he’d eventually like to see minor ball hockey programs across the province.
The new minor ball hockey program in St. John’s and area will be affiliated with the Canadian Ball Hockey Association (CBHA).
The league will run for 10 weeks starting in May.
The players will get a minimum of two one-hour sessions per week. Skills sessions for younger age groups will be run under the direction of staff members and games will be officiated by certified NLBHA officials.
All sessions will be held at the Twin Rinks and will run mainly between Monday and Thursday afternoons and evenings. Registration is $175.
The league will operate several divisions, including four male groups (Under-19, -17, -15, -12) an U15 female division and a co-ed division for kids 9 and under.
Minor registration is May 7-10 at Twin Rinks.
An all-star team will be selected from the U19, U17 and U15 age groups to represent the province at the junior ball hockey championships July 31-Aug. 3 in Winnipeg, Man.
Power noted this province will play host to the junior national tournament in 2015 along with the Eastern Canadian senior championship.
In the meantime, Power said the NLBHA will run the St. John’s Ball Hockey League this season “for this year only” because most of the previous executive isn’t returning and no one stepped up to fill the positions.
“It’s been a few years since I’ve been involved in ball hockey, so I’ve got to find out what’s going on,” said Power.
There are 722 players registered in men’s ball hockey across the province along with 244 youth players, mainly from Marystown and Labrador.
There’s a meeting for the St. John’s men’s ball hockey league 7:30 tonight at the Mews Centre.