Minor hockey association looks back on good season

LOUISDALE: The Strait Richmond Minor Hockey Association (SRMHA) held its final shindig for the 2016-17 season last Thursday evening and, says president John Ouellette, members looked back on many positives while looking forward to even more.

“There are lots of things to be proud of,” Ouellette said, following the annual general meeting at Richmond Academy.

“The Pee Wee Cs won their league, the Pee Wee AAAs got to provincials, and the Atom AAs were in crossovers for the Cape Breton Cup. We’re going to be icing our first female Atom hockey team in September, which is exciting.

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“Like a lot of sports organizations, we’re facing the same demographic challenge – attracting and retaining people to the sport. We’re trying to manage costs, and that’s one of the biggest challenges, keeping registration at a level that lets people play the sport and, on the other hand, allows us to pay our bills.”

The organization saw its board of directors revamped slightly. Holding key positions are Ouellette, Leon Burt (vice-president), Kelly MacIntyre-Hayes (registrar), Anne Marie Sampson (treasurer), and Jennifer Phillips (secretary). Board members include Angie Matheson, Ken Tate, John Campbell, Michelle Sampson, Mike Touesnard, Joey Mcnamara, Dwain Shannon, and Shelly Nicholson.

“We’d like to thank outgoing board members Rodney Diggdon, Jeremy Gillis and John Grimes for their commitment and dedication to the kids who play minor hockey in our communities,” said President Ouellette.

Grimes, who coaches the Pee Wee C Pirates, was given high praise for his coaching, as he was presented the association’s coach of the year award.

“John gets great dedication out of the kids who play for him, and they had great success on the ice this year by winning their league,” said Ouellette, who added the Strait-Richmond program is pushing for C level hockey to participate at the Day of Champions and provincials.

Also noteworthy out of the meeting was a $5,000 cheque presentation to the association from the Royal’s Gents Tournament. Leon Burt, representing the Royals’ tournament, handed the cheque over to Anne Marie Sampson.

“The gentleman’s tournament is a great asset for minor hockey in the sense that they allow us to do things and pay for things that might be a challenge otherwise,” the president said. “The Royals’ contribution this year is helping minor hockey pay for the boards that we’re bringing in to allow for half-ice and cross-ice hockey.

“Next year at the novice age, most games will be played cross ice. The small ice game gives kids more puck touches, more shots, and if you’re a goalie, more shots on. All the studies show it’s a better way to develop more skilled players.”

A recognition ceremony was also held for the Pee Wee AAA Strait-Richmond Pirates, who were given the fair play banner at provincials, and Logan Boulet was presented the President’s Goaltending Award.

Ouellette said next season will have the association look at revamping the Port Hawkesbury Paper Tournament so that the event is spread out over the year rather than confined to one week and two weekends. The change is meant to increase participation at the event.

The association is also looking at having a banquet at the end of the 2017-18 season, in order to end the season on a high note.

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Sports reporter Grant McDaniel is a Port Hood native, who after graduating from StFX University, joined The Reporter in 2001.