Bay Roberts ball hockey league conl­cudes ‘suc­cess­ful’ inau­gu­ral sea­son

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

If the empty pizza boxes and dis­carded soft drink cans were any in­di­ca­tion, the first sea­son of the Bay Roberts Mi­nor Ball Hockey League could be con­sid­ered a suc­cess.

The new league con­cluded its inau­gu­ral sea­son with two hours of ball hockey ac­tion for its younger groups at the Bay Arena on Aug. 10. Teams made up of play­ers from ev­ery team squared off for one last time to claim glory over their op­po­nents be­fore gorg­ing them­selves on pizza and drinks.

Like any other game, the ac­tion on the floor was in­tense as play­ers fought for ev­ery inch they could muster. “We had 80 or 90 kids show up here on the last night,” said or­ga­nizer Ian Flynn.

“That says a lot. With the weather we’ve had this sum­mer, a lot of par­ents have said it’s great that the chil­dren had some­where to go in the evenings, be­cause they haven’t been able to get through the door.”

If you re­move the empty boxes from the equa­tion, the sea­son could still be con­sid­ered a suc­cess.

The league had 220 chil­dren reg­is­tered and ran three di­vi­sions — two out of the Bay Arena and one at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate.

Out of those three di­vi­sions, the as­so­ci­a­tion be­came reg­is­tered with the New­found­land and Labrador Ball Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion and sent two teams to pro­vin­cial tour­na­ments. The un­der-15 squad came away with a sil­ver medal in its tour­na­ment, while the un­der-17 team was a pro­vin­cial cham­pion. From those teams, 19 play­ers went on to rep­re­sent the province at the ju­nior ball hockey na­tion­als.

“We’re look­ing to test the wa­ters about host­ing some tour­na­ments next year as well,” said Flynn.

Learn­ing lessons

The inau­gu­ral sea­son for any league has the po­ten­tial to be full of grow­ing pains as or­ga­niz­ers of­ten learn on the fly.

For the mi­nor ball hockey league, the big­gest thing Flynn learned was to have more help around from the start. He only hired one stu­dent worker to help run three-di­vi­sion league.

“I learned a lot. There were some grow­ing pains at the be­gin­ning of the year,” he said. “We weath­ered the storm. Par­ents were very un­der­stand­ing.”

Another les­son learned was with the reg­is­tra­tion process. This sea­son, the start of prac­tices and reg­is­ter­a­tion ran into each other. Next sea­son, Flynn an­tic­i­pates start­ing a bit ear­lier in the year.

Of­fer­ing hockey of a dif­fer­ent kind

As ev­ery­one knows, play­ing mi­nor hockey in the win­ter is not a cheap ven­ture. There are many costs that come with at­tempt­ing the play this coun­try’s favourite sport. Pro­grams such as the Cana­dian Tire Jump­start pro­gram can off­set them, but even then it can still be costly.

That’s what makes a ball hockey league a pop­u­lar op­tion for sum­mer fun. It of­fers chil- dren the op­por­tu­nity to play hockey with­out the con­sid­er­able ex­pense for par­ents.

“This was a great op­por­tu­nity for those to come and play at the sta­dium,” said Flynn. “

They loved it. There were kids that never missed a night be­cause this was their hockey sea­son.”

Head­ing into the open­ing game, the em­pha­sis was on giv­ing the play­ers a solid hour of en­ter­tain­ment for a cou­ple hours a week. Goal scor­ers were not recorded and the fo­cus was on hav­ing a good time.

“It was all about the kids hav­ing a run and a bit of ex­er­cise,” said Flynn.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

The Bay Roberts Mi­nor Ball Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion con­cluded its de­but sea­son last week.

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