When Sidney’s Jackson Day was looking for a sport to keep his skills sharp during hockey’s off-season, his mother Christy Sklapsky pointed him toward ball hockey as a potential alternative to lacrosse, which he had been playing in the past.
He gave it try and nearly five years later, will play for Canada’s U-16 boys team at the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation’s 2022 World Ball Hockey Championships in Zilina, Slovakia, June 29 to July 3.
Day, 15, made the team after an invitation-only tryout held last November in Vancouver.
“I was actually in school and I got an email at lunch,” the Stelly’s Secondary student said when asked how he found out. “I was obviously pretty excited to hear about it.”
The Peninsula Eagles minor hockey player, whose family roots in Sidney go back seven decades, is one of two Greater Victoria players and seven from B.C. on the 22-player roster. To help build team chemistry, the group will arrive early at the tournament location in Slovakia – by way of Austria – for a several-day training camp. The competition itself features a round-robin portion followed by playoffs.
“I’m hoping that I will be able to keep up with the players and help out the team,” Day said of his personal expectations. “I’m definitely hoping to bring home a medal. I’d like to do well in the tournament.”
His commitment to the sport generally and this competition specifically is evident in other ways.
Day is paying for his portion of the trip – roughly $4,000 – entirely out of his own pocket through part-time work at Sidney’s Save-on-Foods location.
Playing ball hockey in the summer has allowed Day to maintain his cardiovascular fitness and hand-eye coordination, translating to better puck control and stamina on the ice, two things he hopes will take his game to the next level. With two years left in minor hockey, his goal is to make the jump to junior, with an eye toward playing college or university hockey.
“He is doing really well at balancing his commitments,” said Sklapsky, who will travel with her husband to Slovakia to watch Day play. “He loves the game, so it is not that difficult. He always has a stick in his hands.”
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