SUNDRE – With the ice surface at the Sundre Arena expected to be available as of yesterday, local hockey players as well as other user groups have undoubtedly been eagerly sharpening their skates in anticipation.
As of last Wednesday, Sept. 13, more than 110 players had been signed up to play with the Sundre Minor Hockey Association following the registration period’s deadline at the end of August, said Amber Jenkins, vice-president.
“The season is looking good,” said Jenkins.
The number of players enabled the association to field two U9 teams as well as full rosters for U11, U13 and U15. And albeit with a shorter bench, the association also expects to field a U18 squad, she said.
“We never had a U11 last year, so that’s exciting,” she added.
The association is also currently receptive to volunteers who might be interested in a variety of roles.
“We need refs,” she said, adding a clinic for the paid positions that provide mileage for anyone travelling in from out of town is scheduled for Oct. 21 at the arena.
Anyone interested in learning more is invited to email [email protected].
“And we could use some more coaches,” she said, adding that inquiries can be sent to Tim Kennedy, coach coordinator, at [email protected].
Otherwise, the association is also looking forward to hosting on Thursday, Sept. 28 a Hockey Alberta player development course for the U13s, U15s and U18s presented by Hockey Alberta, she said, adding the first practices were scheduled for yesterday with the season set to start Sept. 18.
“As long as the ice plant is working, we’ll be good,” she said.
Minor hockey fans interested in following their favourite local teams are encouraged to check out the association’s social media page for regular posts announcing upcoming games.
Meanwhile, although Sundre Rec Hockey was also busy last week getting ready for the arena’s early opening, that organization is for an additional fee still taking late registrations until the end of the month, said Amy McDonald, vice-president.
“It was a slow start just because we had to change over from Fun Team,” McDonald said, adding their group is now under Hockey Alberta.
“We switched from Fun Team to Hockey Alberta so we can play other teams that had switched as well,” she explained. “We just waited for that approval and once we got that, then we got the ball rolling and everything seems to be shaping up OK so far.”
As of the time when she spoke with the Albertan on Sept. 13, McDonald said teams had not yet been lined up, but added there were about 40 players registered, representing roughly half of last year’s total.
She attributed the decline to the late start for registration and also speculated based on conversations she’d had with other hockey moms that some former rec players decided to enrol with minor hockey this year.
Asked if they were also looking for additional helping hands such as coaches or referees, she said, “Absolutely. We’re looking for all of it, and board members.”
Many long-serving former members have stepped down, and there are now four board members serving on the executive, leaving just enough for quorum, she said.
“We’re up and up, but we’d like some help,” she said, adding their annual general meeting takes place Tuesday, Sept. 26.
“So hopefully, more people sign up for being board members.”
Anyone interested in registering a player – or who might want to know more about the expectations of getting involved as a volunteer – is invited to contact McDonald by email at [email protected].
As of Thursday, Sept. 14, Sue Nelson, the municipality’s manager of community services, said the dehumidifier was fired up earlier this month and that the town crew was on schedule to have the arena ready to open yesterday – Monday, Sept. 18 – as planned.