© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Coaches are an integral part of any sport and on Saturday the Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association saluted the many volunteers who teach and guide the players during the long season. A banquet was held in appreciation of all that coaches do in Prince Albert and area with awards being doled out to those who led the way in their respective divisions. Picking up the president's award of merit was Luc Robin while those who collected division honours were: Donn Goertz (pee wee), Boris Bissky (Initiation Program), James Fischer (bantam), Trevor Gunville (IP), Mike Mardel (IP), Dean Mamer (novice), Trevor Klassen (atom) and Phil Morin (midget). Shown in the photo are, from left, Robin, Goertz, Bissky and Fischer with the other award winners not in attendance at the banquet.
The Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association is at a bit of a crossroads.
At a time when they are experiencing tremendous growth, they are also now in need of coaches for all three Tier 1 developmental teams.
“We’ve been lucky the last little while,” admits PAMHA technical director James Mays. “We’ve put an ad in the newspaper for the next three Saturdays and it is on our website.”
“It is open to anybody, but the board would prefer non-parents to coach,” added Mays. “We know that is tough sometimes.”
The job postings became necessary when Shaun Phaneuf stepped away from coaching the Midget AA Dmyterko Enterprises Raiders and Doug Hobson and Bryan Swystun finished their terms with the bantam Venice House Raiders and pee wee NAPA Raiders, respectively.
“They (new coaches) have to have certain qualifications,” explains Mays. “Pee wee and midget need Development 1 (for a coaching level) and bantam needs Development 2.”
“We’ve already had six to eight guys talk to us in the rinks and ask us about the positions,” added Mays.
Different from previous years there is no longer a Tier 1 co-ordinator, but rather a committee of four who will pour over the candidates to fill the vacant positions with the positions expected to be filled by the time the annual general meeting comes around on April 29.
The AGM could see another change in the composition of the board as Mays indicated there is a proposal being put forward to increase the current number of directors from 10 to 11.
“Right now all the community clubs get to appoint one board member,” says Mays. “I don’t think there is another organization that does that. We are kind of limited right now.”
The proposed change would see the president and vice-president continue to be voted in plus the four community clubs with covered arenas – East End, East Hill, West Hill and Crescent Heights – would have appointed members. The remaining five seats on the board would then be filled with elected members giving the association a better and stronger cross-section of hockey knowledge.
With the hockey season having just been completed at the end of March, plans for next year are already underway with early registrations for the 2014-15 season set for June 18-19. Having early registrations is nothing new for the PAMHA, but news out of Saskatoon this week raised some concerns in that city when next year’s fees were all due by June.
“I heard they are going to be down a rink next year so there is a real crunch for ice,” said Mays who was not sure which facility was to be closed leaving organizers in that city scrambling to get a grasp of what kind of player numbers they would be dealing with. “Historically we register at last year’s rate (in June) and we haven’t had an increase in four years. Looking at the numbers this year we should be able to hold the line for another year.”
Mays says an added advantage for paying in June is to help parents avoid the heavy cost of minor hockey fees in September when school fees become due. Regular registration dates for the next season will be Sept. 2-3, but it is expected that a number of fees will be paid during the early registration period.
While fees have remained status quo for the past few years, there has been a 25 per cent increase in players, 50 per cent increase in officials and coaches have doubled in that same time period.
“There are a number of reasons for that,” said Mays. “I think we’re running a better shop; businesses are getting involved to help maintain costs; we offer programs to coaches and players; P.A. is growing.”
“We also have tried new things,” added Mays. “Everybody liked the championship weekend and next year we will do a little bit more.”
In addition to being the technical director for the PAMHA, Mays is also the referee-in-chief for Hockey Canada. He says for the first time in recent memory there will be no major rule changes, but in November there will be a big gala to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the organization. That ceremony will be a prelude to a celebration planned to coincide with the world junior championship scheduled for Montreal and Toronto during the Christmas holidays.
It wasn’t that long ago where minor hockey in the city was in serious trouble. Mays is confident that the sport is moving in the right direction and will continue to be one of the more popular winter activities for a long time.