The Greater Trail Minor Hockey Association (GTMHA) is celebrating its inaugural year in a traditional manner with a return to the original spirit of Minor Hockey Week in Trail.
As the birthplace of Minor Hockey Week, the newly amalgamated GTMHA is determined to resurrect a day that has floundered in recent years.
“Unfortunately, the last couple years it’s slipped and hasn’t had the type of focus we’d like,” said organizer Jim Maniago. “We tried early on to identify the day and try and bring it back into importance.”
Minor Hockey Week kicked off last Sunday at the Beaver Valley Nitehawks game where all minor hockey league players, coaches, referees, and volunteers were admitted free to the game against Grand Forks.
It will culminate in an all-important match up at the Cominco Arena Saturday night when Trail Smoke Eaters battle the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Smokies invite all GTMHA coaches and referees, and players to wear their jerseys to get in free.
“I remember years ago, minor hockey day was a great game to referee (the Smokies’ game) because it brings in one of the bigger crowds of the year, and we’re hoping it will be the same, that everyone will come out just to support each other.”
While the rest of Canada celebrates the day in mid-February, Trail has traditionally marked off the third week in January to recognize minor hockey and its players, coaches, referees, parents and volunteers.
“We are the home of Minor Hockey Week in Trail and, as a group, the (GTMHA) executive felt we needed to get that back as an important date on the calendar, and not lose the history that we’ve got.”
And while the focus is on the players, the organizers invite all residents to share in the day by coming and watching the kids enjoy the sport of hockey.
“I remember as a kid, getting to play when we were really little on the big ice, which was not very often, and going out and remembering all the people that were there watching,” said Maniago. “The idea is to have as many people around the rink having fun and enjoying the day, and everything that’s going on as much as we can.”
The festivities start bright and early Saturday with Local 480 serving up a pancake breakfast for all players, coaches, and referees from 8-11 a.m.
Games will run all day long at the Cominco Arena starting at 8 a.m. with a Jr. Novice game, and a Senior Novice match up at the Beaver Valley Arena. The celebration winds up with the Atom Jamboree at 3:15 p.m. where four teams worth of kids will enjoy a mini-tournament.
“We’re hoping to get things going this year, and build for next year and make it even bigger and better.”