A local program is expanding to attract young hockey players who are looking for an affordable alternative to minor hockey.
Christian and Community Kids Hockey, formed roughly 25 to 30 years ago, provides young local athletes an opportunity to play, learn and develop their hockey skills without the time, financial and travel commitments that come with playing minor league hockey.
“I think there was a group of people who saw a need, they didn’t want to do minor hockey mostly because of the time commitment and the travel and wanted to provide an alternative,” said Sylvia Ripmeester, one of the program organizers, who also has four boys that have all gone through the program.
“Our kids have all wanted to play hockey, but with four boys that would have been a huge time commitment to try and put all four boys through minor hockey.”
The program has two age groups: six to 10-year-olds and 11 to 14-year-olds. They practice once a week at the arena with volunteer coaches concentrating on skating and drills, while the older age groups work on developing personal skills and scrimmages — all of which are non-contact.
This year, program organizer Tracy Gingras has also tried to organize more games for the youngsters; they’ve had three games so far with the most recent exhibition play day on Jan. 2.
“I think it makes this sport a little more accessible to families because it’s much cheaper than minor hockey,” said Gingras, adding that they have more than 35 kids signed up this season.
“It doesn’t require as much volunteer work from parents . . . You can still be involved in the sport without having to commit your whole week.”
This year, the program has also added another option for youth between the ages of 15-18.
According to Ripmeester, there was a demand for shinny hockey.
“There’s been kind of a gap in that kind of hockey in this town, just to have shinny hockey for that age,” she said. “There seems to be a fair bit of excitement for something like this.”
Prorated fees are $90 for the remainder of the season, which runs until March and players must provide their own gear.
Practices are Saturday morning starting at 7:45 a.m., while shinny hockey play on Fridays from 6-7:15 p.m, and drop-in fees are $5.
For more information or to register, call Gringras at 250-877-2459.