Image: Trail Times file

Trail Minor Hockey Day, more than just another day

“It all began here, of course, and it is still a mainstay of Canadian amateur hockey … “

As someone who participated in the first one, many years ago, I can tell you this Minor Hockey Day in Trail will be way different than that one.

Back then, with the slogan, “Don’t send, take your boy (sic) to the rink,” which soon evolved with the addition of, “then stay, to watch him (sic) play.” The day, the week actually, featured games for all the almost 600 kids in leagues from Pee Wee pool to Junior, playing on a schedule designed to optimize the opportunity for parents to attend the games.

Even with a relative abundance of ice for a small community, minor hockey schedules often precluded attendance by working parents. So the minor hockey celebration crammed games into a weekend timed so that at least Monday to Friday day shift workers could be at the rink. It allowed for households without a vehicle in the driveway, of which there were many more in those days, to arrange transportation with then relatively ample transit, or neighbours and friends.

It worked, too. Minor hockey games that drew crowds of fewer than 50 on a regular basis would take place in front of fairly large, supportive audiences. The arena would be half full, or more, for usually sparsely attended Bantam and Midget games, and the schedule makers also slotted some Pee Wee contests on the big ice – the better to have room for spectators, who had limited comfortable options when the younger kids were using the kids’ rink.

It all began here, of course, and it is still a mainstay of Canadian amateur hockey, even if the dates and themes are less co-ordinated than was once the case.

Tomorrow is a different animal, but still a celebration of hockey. Major Midget, Junior B and Junior A games, all at the same location on the same day, creates a myriad of opportunities for people, whatever shift they are on, to drop in, enjoy, and support the top tiers of minor hockey available in the area.

It all kicks off with a pancake breakfast – stretched over more than two hours to make it amenable for people with various, “up and at em,” schedules – then there are games at 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. All the games count in the various standings, so there will be nothing, “exhibition,” about them.

It is $15 for the day, with discounts for season ticket holders of the various teams, and the 50-50 will start building at the midget game and be drawn during the third period of Trail/Merritt.

Lots of activity supported by lots of volunteers, available for you at your leisure/pace. Should be easy to support that.

• At the junior level, there are two highly competitive squads hitting the Cominco Arena ice Saturday. The Nitehawks have been rolling for a while, and top their division, but face a Kimberley team with a recent record of very high-level play that is leading KIJHL. Kootenay competition at is finest.

Just a note. It is appropriate that the Nitehawks are in on Saturday’s activities, because when Minor Hockey Day began, and for many years afterwards, Beaver Valley kids were included in Trail Minor Hockey.

• The Smokies face an always tough Vernon tonight, looking to sweep the home portion of their schedule against the Vipers and win the season’s series between the two.

Then Trail looks to finish a sweep of the Merritt Centennials, almost as frequent a visitor to Cominco Arena as the Smokies themselves of late, in the finale to the Saturday jamboree.

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