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Pond Hockey to provide option for Macleod kids

Fort Macleod Minor Hockey wants more young people to embrace Canada’s game.
The association will launch a Pond Hockey program this fall to provide a new opportunity for children aged seven to 16 years to play organized hockey.
“I think it’s terrific,” Fort Macleod Minor Hockey president Jason Austin said. “We’ve been working on it for a couple of years.”
Certified and insured by Hockey Alberta, Pond Hockey stresses participation with less structure and travelling and no body contact.
“It won’t be competitive,” Austin said. “It’s no contact.”
Players are required to wear full CSA-approved equipment. Hockey rules apply except the blue line and center red line are ignored.
“The mission of the hockey board is to have more kids playing hockey,” Austin said. “If it’s grassroots level, if it’s structured, competitive hockey, the more kids we have playing the better.”
Minor Hockey has heard considerable feedback about the commitment required to play on a Fort Macleod team in the Central Alberta Hockey League.
“Sundays just aren’t an option for some people, and some people have no interest in the five or six hours to dedicate to that,” Austin said.
The Pond Hockey program is still in the planning stages in Fort Macleod.
Hockey Alberta encourages a mixture of ages in a Pond Hockey program, with one minimum 90-minute ice time each week.
Tentative plans are for a 12 and under age group, and a 13 and over group.
There will usually be coaching and instruction for 30 to 45 minutes, followed by a game between the players.
“We want to make sure kids are on the ice with other age-appropriate players,” Austin said.
At present the Minor Hockey board is working to line up ice time for Pond Hockey.
A registration fee has not yet been set. Ice and insurance costs will dictate how much is charged to each player.
Minor Hockey is making no predictions on how many children will sign up for Pond Hockey.
“Is it a success if we have three dozen?” Austin said. “It is something people have asked for and we have committed to. We’re going to try and make it cost-effective so as many kids can get into it as possible.”
Fort Macleod Minor Hockey will appoint a Pond Hockey director.
Players who are on a team in the Central Alberta Hockey League could also pay to play Pond Hockey.
“That option would be available,” Austin said. “The job of the Pond Hockey director would be to reach out to the kids who aren’t currently playing.”
“We want the kids who are currently playing to supplement a really good Pond Hockey program,” Austin said. “We want to build the program for the people who want to use it, and then supplement it.”
Minor Hockey registration is 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 23 at the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre.
Information will be posted at www.fortmacleodminorhockey.com.

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