The Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association will celebrate Hockey Day in Canada on Saturday, along with the NHL and most other minor hockey associations in Canada this year.
As the birthplace of Minor Hockey Week, Trail traditionally celebrated the event on the third weekend in January, but certain factors led GTMHA to fall in line with the rest of the country this year.
“Minor Hockey Week is technically in January, but this didn’t work for us in terms of facilities and it’s so important to have the Nitehawks and Smoke Eaters games around and the weekend that it would have been just didn’t fit for a lot of reasons,” said organizer Jim Maniago.
Despite the date change, Greater Trail arenas will be packed with minor hockey players, and games starting at 8 a.m. and going all day.
In lieu of the traditional pancake breakfast, GTMHA will be barbecuing a hot dog lunch for players and spectators in front of the Cominco Arena.
“We’ll have the hot dogs cooking right out in front, so hopefully the idea is that everyone is going to be grabbing a hot dog and going sitting down and watching. The more people around the better.”
The Greater Trail Pee Wees get things started on Cominco Ice, while the Jr. and Sr. Novice will follow that up with their own jamboree where all teams will mix it up in some fun-filled matches. Following the Atom Jamboree from 1-4 p.m. the Bantam Tier 2 Smoke Eaters will host the Nelson Tier 2 Leafs in Game 1 of their first-to-four-points playoff.
All minor hockey players will be allowed free entry to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Trail Smoke Eaters games on Friday and Saturday respectively, with the Beaver Valley Jr. Novice teams playing between periods at the Nitehawks game and the Trail Jr. Novice doing the same at the Smokies game.
While many minor hockey associations have seen numbers drastically decline, Greater Trail minor hockey has enjoyed an up year for registration, particularly in the number of young players joining.
“Our Junior Novice, I don’t know when we’ve had this many kids in Junior Novice since I can remember,” said Maniago. “We did a big push and made some changes to encourage kids to join up and it increased our numbers this year, so I hope that’s a good sign.”
A full slate of games is planned for the Beaver Valley Arena and Cominco Arena on Saturday, see the Trail Times “Salute to Minor Hockey” in Thursday’s Times for schedule.