Minor ball hockey leagues rolling in Langford, Saanich
West Shore youth can now experience the thrill of hockey, minus the ice, skates and pads.
Brian Castle has founded the Greater Victoria Minor Ball Hockey Association. The league operates out of Eagle Ridge arena at City Centre Park in Langford and at Pearkes Recreation Centre in Saanich.
The league is open to youth ages five to 18.
This is the first official season of the league, and so far more than 150 kids have signed up play. Castle’s initial goal was to get 100 young players on the hardtop.
With the majority of players coming from Saanich, there is still a demand for West Shore players, Castle said. The league is open to both girls and boys.
“We still need more kids,” Castle said adding there is a demand for children between seven and 12 years old.
“We are going to run it like a real sport and want kids who are going to come out and have fun and get some exercise,” Castle said. “We want kids who really want to play hockey and don’t want to spend a lot of money.”
Players in the league will compete in regular league games and tournaments.
There is also opportunities to compete in provincial and national tournaments.
“You can go fairly high in the sport,” Castle said, giving Vancouver Canucks player Alexandre Burrows as an example.
Burrows established himself in the sport of ball hockey, competing nationally and internally, before entering the NHL. He was inducted into both the Canadian Ball Hockey and International Ball Hockey halls of fame.
“Ball hockey is more similar to ice hockey than roller hockey is,” Castle said explaining the teams have a similar number of players and it follows the rules of the NHL. A difference from the ice rink is ball hockey is a non-contact sport. The only equipment needed is running shoes, gloves, a stick, helmet and a protective cup.
“It’s a cheap sport that kids can do, and they can keep out of trouble,” Castle said. “I’ve been playing for 10 years. It’s addicting, competitive and a lot of fun.”
The minor league was created when Castle saw a huge increase in adult ball hockey teams in Greater Victoria.
“There were six new teams in the past four years,” said Castle, the former president of Victoria Ball Hockey League. “It just made sense to have (the sport) continue to grow for years by having a minor’s league.”
The season runs from April to June. Registration closes at the end of March.
The Greater Victoria Minor Ball Hockey Association is hosting two free drop-in days for anyone interested in trying the sport.
On March 12, seven- to 12-year- olds are welcome from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. On March 13, 13- and 14-year-olds are welcome from 3 to 4 p.m. Both drop-in times are at Eagle Ridge arena, 1089 Langford Pkwy.
To register or for more information go to www.vmbh.ca.