The Sunshine Coast Minor Hockey Association is off to a strong start for the 2013/14 season.
With the first half of the season in the books, president Sean Gray is thrilled with all the teams, where they stand so far and the dedication that has been shown by the coaches, players, parents and volunteers.
“It’s just been a good first few months,” he said. “For a small association, we are certainly holding our own. We have lots of strong coaches who are really dedicated, so that makes a difference.”
For most of the teams, the first two months are spent playing in a tiering round, which determines the final division that each team will play in their respective leagues for regular season play.
The association is divided into two areas: house teams, which do not travel or have limited travel in their schedule, and rep teams, which typically play twice a weekend, once at home and once on the road.
In the house league, the tyke division (five to six years old) is the youngest group. They have 30 kids on three teams who are mostly practising, going through drills and playing short games.
“We have a pretty keen group of kids, who have been steadily improving since the start of the year,” Gray said. “These kids are really just starting out, so the focus is on skill development and skating.”
Next is the novice division (seven to eight), which spent the first month of the season practising.
Throughout the month of November they started a full schedule of games. The teams include the Canadians, Maple Leafs, Canucks and Senators. The Canadians and Maple Leafs just played a pair of games with Powell River with the Canadians losing 4-3 and the Maple Leafs winning 7-1.
“This is another strong group, probably 50-plus,” Gray said. “We have some great coaches at this level and the kids are really doing well. The numbers are up, which is encouraging, and I think a lot of that growth is because of the One Goal program through the Sunshine Coast Regional District. That’s a great program, and it’s allowed us to really make this division strong. That bodes well for the future, too.”
Atom C (nine to 10) is a travel team this year for the first time in at least 10 years.
They are playing a competitive schedule against teams from North Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler.
“They seem to be faring pretty well considering the tough competition,” Gray said. “Our numbers were dropping a bit and we wanted to accommodate a rep team as well, so we opened up the idea of having this team as a travel team before they get to the rep division. We put out a parent survey and the response was pretty positive, so we decided to give this a go. We wanted to make sure that our own teams weren’t playing against each other, so this was the option. So far, I think it’s working out pretty well.”
At the peewee house level (ages 11 to 12) there are two teams travelling, playing once a week either at home or on the road.
Both teams are very strong in their divisions. The C1 team is 7-1-1 and in first place out of 17 teams, while the C2 team is 6-2-1 and in fourth place in their division.
The bantam C house team (ages 13 to 14) plays twice a week with home games on Saturday and road games on Sunday. They finished at 9-2-1 in their tiering round and are 4-1 in league play for an impressive overall record of 13-2-1.
The midget C house team is back this year after the association didn’t have a team last year. They just started league play and are 1-0 and were in a tournament in Seattle in late November and went 1-2-1. The tiering round was tough, but they are starting to come together as a team, so look for big things as the season continues.
All four rep teams are off to good starts as well.
Atom finished 4-4 in the placement round and is 1-3 in league play so far.
Peewee played right around the .500 mark in the tiering round and has been placed in a tough league division and so far is 1-5.
Bantam is rolling through the competition and this is the team to watch this season. They are 5-0 in league play and have a 17-0-2 overall record between placement, league and tournament play. They also won a recent tournament in Victoria.
Finally the midget team is 5-1-1 in league play after 7-5 win on the road over Cloverdale last Saturday and a convincing 7-2 win over Vancouver at the Gibsons and Area Community Centre last Sunday night.
For more on the association, check out their website at http://site1677.goalline.ca.