The Atom McDonalds team took part in tiering games last weekend. Here Kavan Flewelling aims for some puck control against an opponent. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Excitement for minor hockey’s future in Ponoka

New program grows more than anticipated, teams all set to for the season

The start of a new learn-to-play program has many with Ponoka Minor Hockey Association (PMHA) delighted.

That includes the organization’s president Cam Rice, who helped launch the Colts division for kids ages three to five years old. He believes so much in the program, he has put his money where his mouth is and made his company, Hulk Ventures, the major sponsor of the program.

It was expected the Colts would see enrollment of around 10 to 12 kids, but so far that number sits at 14 and it may still grow.

“Almost daily I’m getting messages from parents about what equipment they should buy and what else they should do. It’s really exciting for our association,” said Rice.

His hope is this program will help keep get kids and parents hooked to the Ponoka Minor Hockey program.

The Colts will be joining the Initiation division teams in Ponoka on another new adventure — where players five and younger are to play cross-ice games — one that is being mandated by Hockey Canada this season. Hockey Canada plans to expand the cross-ice play to the Novice division for the 2018-19 season.

“Our Initiation teams will be playing games on two-thirds of the smaller ice surface this year with the Colts using the other third,” Rice stated.

He added the change is part of some accommodation by both Hockey Canada and Hockey Alberta because of that surface not being regulation size, since cross-ice play was originally meant for full-sized rinks.

New jerseys soon

When Ponoka Minor Hockey approved a change to its logo earlier this year, it necessitated the need for new jerseys, which Rice stated should be arriving within the next two or three weeks.

Another new look this season will be on the pucks, with 500 containing the Ponoka Stampede logo to be used for games this season.

Rice explained the idea helps to recognize the support given minor hockey by the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association by its contribution for minor hockey volunteers. While one-third of the donation is to be used to help subsidize players that need help paying for registration, the rest goes to the parents who volunteer to help offset a portion of their child’s registration.

PMHA is down two teams this year; the bantam and peewee divisions each lost one.

On the positive side though, there are five Ponoka athletes who will be playing in the elite AA stream with the Central Alberta Selects based in Lacombe. Two players — Luke Simanton and Trace Tonnenson — made the peewee club, while three players — Jared and Cooper Rice plus Cyrus Thompson — will play with the midget squad.

One other unique possibility for PMHA this year is the prospect of playing some games outdoors.

“If the weather cooperates and other things can be worked out, the hope is that during the midget tournament this December to give each team one game on the outdoor rink,” said Rice.

That plan is still being discussed.

Stable shots – Tiering began this past weekend with a couple games at home, but things will really get underway starting this week. The Fountain Tire Midget Wolves host Drayton Valley tonight (8:15 p.m.), the Moose bantams will take on Daysland Oct. 14 (5:45 p.m.) and Devon Oct. 15 (noon), the Elks peewees face Drayton Valley Oct. 14 (1:15 p.m.) while the McDonalds atoms take on Strathcona Oct. 13 (6:15 p.m.).

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Atom McDonalds’ Sean MacLaren looks for a pass during a tiering game Oct. 7. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Mckalum Senft, of the Atom McDonalds team looks for some control of the puck Oct. 7 during a tiering game. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

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