Cutting down the angles
Bay Arena minor taking unique approach to attracting goaltenders
Finding — and keeping — young goaltenders can be a tricky business in minor hockey, especially at the younger levels.
Either the player is not too fond of having pucks fired at them at high speeds, or the constant scrutiny goaltenders face today, even at the lowest level, is a deterrent.
With that in mind, the Bay Arena Minor Hockey Association has introduced a unique new initiative for first-time goaltenders, which it hopes will address the tender shortage, and help on parents’ pocketbooks.
Dubbed the goaltender incentive program, it focuses on athletes in the lower divisions of minor hockey — squirt, novice and atom.
Here’s how it works. When a first-time minor hockey player signs up as a goaltender, and then plays the full year, the house league fees for that year — some $300-plus for the first child in a family — will be reimbursed.
“That is to help offset the cost of buying goalie equipment,” said Bay Arena minor president Brian Drover.
That does not mean parents have to go out and spend a great deal of money on goaltender gear, since the association has its own inventory of equipment.
For Drover, the idea is looked upon as a “proactive approach” to a problem that has been a thorn in the association’s side for a number of years.
“Goalies are always a premium and in short supply,” he said.
The association has long offered discounts to goaltenders as a way to help encourage children to step between the pipes.
But, he believes this is the first time such a deal has been struck.
“We’ve always had discounts, but nothing like this,” he stated.
Craig Tulk, the executive director with Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador, said the provincial governing body is in full support of what Bay Arena minor is doing.
“We support any programs an association does that helps promote that position,” he said.
Finding goaltenders at the lower levels of minor hockey can be a challenge for any association and Hockey NL acknowledges that it could be happening elsewhere.
“We haven’t done a study or anything like that, just by word of mouth, but I would speculate that it is,” said Tulk.
Real teaching of the goaltender position usually does not happen until the atom division, he added.
This can present a problem in getting children interested in playing the position.
“It’s a catch-22,” he said. “Obviously, if you have a child who is five or six and has an interest in the position, we should do everything we can to comply with that request, but also realize that if they don’t stay there, they have to be involved in skill development as well.”
With the support of Hockey NL, it would appear that Bay Arena minor is moving in the right direction to attract new players to the goaltending position.
Bay Arena Minor Hockey Association president Brian Drover.