On behalf of the Squamish Minor Hockey Association Board of Directors, I would like to welcome new and returning players to the 2021/2022 Hockey Season! After what has certainly been a challenging year and a half for most, I hope you had some time over the summer break to unwind, connect with family and friends (even if from a distance) and spend some time exploring in the outdoors.
Hockey season is here, and we have been very busy behind the scenes getting ready to welcome you to the ice in just a couple of weeks. As most of you know, our season start date has been delayed due to maintenance required on the ammonia plant and the time required to put the ice in at Brennan Park. As it stands, the first day of hockey operations is scheduled to begin Monday, September 27, 2021. This is much later than we would have liked, and we will continue to advocate with the District of Squamish to get the ice in earlier, as we feel there are some efficiencies that can be realized when we compare the timeline of 20 days it takes at Brennan Park to the 7-10 day turnaround in other municipalities. In the meantime, you can find a draft ice schedule on our website, but please note this schedule is subject to change as we continue to see new and returning registrations leading up to the start of the season.
Covid-19 Protocols & Return to Play
We continue to await updates from BC Hockey and ViaSport regarding our Covid-19 Return to Play Plan for the upcoming hockey season. We will update members as soon as we have more information, but we expect public health measures such as masking, physical distancing and hand washing to remain fundamental aspects of our day-to-day operations. While it appears that players will be exempt from the vaccine passport requirements, it is yet to be determined if this will extend to team officials, such as coaches, managers and safety persons. It appears that spectators will be able to return to Brennan Park, but likely not until the second or third week. Once spectators are allowed in, they will be required to show their vaccine passports. This will include siblings over the age of 12 that will be watching.
Rep Tryouts & Evaluations
This first week of September marked the start of our Rep team tryouts and evaluations, which are being held in the West Vancouver Ice Arena. Many of these players have been hard at work over the summer months participating in various hockey camps and dryland training, and we wish them the best of luck as they strive for this fast-paced, competitive level of hockey.
For those players in house league, we are working on assigning everyone to working groups in TeamSnap, and players should expect to attend any ice times found on the schedule for their respected divisions (the C ice times for U11 and above). As in past years, we will be taking a couple of weeks to evaluate and move players around to create balanced teams. We know this process can sometimes cause anxiety for players, but it does help us offer the best possible experience for all players in the long run by ensuring each team includes players with a diverse range of skills and abilities. We are also required to do so by our regulatory bodies.
Player & Coach Development Programs
We are pleased to have Jeff Eaton and the Advantage Hockey Group return for the 2021/2022 hockey season as the Director of Hockey Operations and head of player and coach development. Advantage Hockey’s role for the upcoming season will focus on on-ice player development as well as coach development, support and mentorship on and off the ice. We are also excited to announce that we have a dedicated local goalie coach this year, Myles Blazer, who will work with our goalies in U8-18 divisions.
Coach Recruitment & Training
We are just wrapping up our Coach recruitment process, and we are excited to welcome all new and returning Coaches. Any individuals that are interested in coaching this season can still submit an application through our website. Our Coaching team truly is an integral party of the hockey experience. It is through the motivation and inspiration of our coaches that players learn new skills, how to set achievable goals, team play, sportsmanship, and the spirit of community. To prepare coaches for a successful season, we will be hosting our Annual Coaching Seminar on Sunday, September 19, 2021 at Brennan Park. This is an opportunity for all coaches to learn more about our association’s coaching philosophy, the season structure, coaching supports, on ice development, coaching resources, and Covid-19 protocols for this season. We will also be facilitating ongoing coaching development throughout the hockey season with the Advantage Hockey Group, including upcoming coaching clinics.
Advance Level Skills
We are pleased to be offering a new program this year for players who would like to advance their skills and have access to additional coaching and development. The Advanced Level Skills program runs in conjunction with other PCAHA Associations in the Lower Mainland and consists of 6 x one hour ice times over six weeks in Squamish. This program will also provide the opportunity to attend sessions on the North Shore for additional development and potentially have Canucks Alumni Dave Babych and Cliff Ronning attend up to two ice times. A total of 3 Advanced Level Skills sessions will be offered throughout the hockey season, with the first one beginning September 27 for six weeks. For more information and to register, please check out our website at www.squamishminorhockey.com.
First Shift Program
For those that are new to the sport, we have partnered with the Vancouver Canucks to bring the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program to Squamish! This program is tailored to provide a positive experience for new-to-hockey families by offering a low-cost entry program to hockey that is accessible, affordable, safe, and fun. Players have access to six on-ice sessions at Brennan Park that allow them time to build confidence and improve their skills, all while moving at their own pace. Players will also be offered an additional 3 transition sessions in December that will prepare them to join one of our teams. Players from the First Shift program can also register for the remainder of the hockey season and join a team with SMHA in the New Year. If you know of an aspiring hockey player in Squamish, please encourage them to register for this program!
There is a lot of exciting stuff going on this year, and we know that many players are excited to get back on the ice. As we eagerly anticipate the re-opening of Brennan Park, we are here for you with any questions or concerns you may have. And as always, check out our website & TeamSnap for regular updates.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Advantage Hockey Group, thank you for entrusting your kids with us. We hope they have a fun year learning new skills and develop lasting friendships with their teammates. And to the coaches, managers, and parent & caregiver volunteers who contribute countless hours to make hockey more accessible and meaningful for our kids, we thank you! You are all contributing to the community fabric that makes Squamish one very special hockey town.
Now, let’s play some hockey!
President, Squamish Minor Hockey Association