Kyle Ward, left, has been called by the Saint John Seadogs, while Julian Galloway got the call from the Rimouski Oceanic.
HEADLINE: Despite lower numbers, Sackville Minor Hockey Club still going strong
The incoming president of the Sackville Minor Hockey Club – formerly Sackville Minor Hockey Association – says he sees both positives and negatives resulting from decisions by elite players and their families to leave the local organization in order to compete at a higher level of competition in Moncton.
Steve Trenholm was commenting on the decision during a discussion, pointing out that the absence of upwards of a dozen top players definitely puts a damper on Sackville’s chances of bringing home more provincial championships. This not only affects the minor teams but also the Tantramar Titans, who saw no fewer than seven talented young men plying their trade in different jurisdictions.
But on the other hand he sees the advantage of positive publicity for his organization – a demonstration that Sackville is producing the type of player who can compete with the best the province has to offer.
Trenholm said the fact that several local players were drafted earlier this year by higher level teams reflects well on the local system. Kyle Ward and Julien Galloway of the AAA Moncton Midget Flyers were taken in the Quebec Junior League draft – Ward by Saint John Seadogs and Galloway by Rimouski Oceanic. Liam Conrad, also of the Flyers, was grabbed by St. Stephen, a new entry in the Maritime Junior League. Meanwhile, Will Lafford was eligible for the draft after a year of prep school in the US while it’s expected Ethan Crossman will either moved up to the AAA Flyers or head off the prep school.
There are others playing triple A in either atom or pee wee levels, which, combined, leaves local entrants in provincial competition a little short of talent required to challenge for league or provincial championships.
Trenholm, a superintendent with Atlantic Windows in Amherst, resides in Sackville and has been a volunteer for several years, while his wife, Tanya, serves as secretary. Others on the executive include past president Aaron Lloyd, treasurer Keri Simpson and vice president Shane O’Neal.
Applications for coaching positions are being received and reviewed by the executive. Each must subject themselves to an official police background check and those who lack a coaching course will be offered a coaching stream.
Brian MacLean, an experienced official, is the man in charge of referees and will ensure all are capable at their job.
Trenholm said monies from the Carl Ward Fund are being used judiciously to improve the level of play at all levels. Clinics for officials are slated while some referees will attend the Don Koharski school to improve their skills. Several years ago Ward, a former minor and senior hockey player in this area, contributed $35,000 to enhance the program and it has been used to upgrade coaches and referees and to send some special players to hockey schools.
For a number of reasons – the economic situation being the primary one causing a decrease in the number of boys and girls in Tantramar there has been a drop of about five percent in the minor hockey registration. From a high of 200 players the program now runs at about 180, but Trenholm is hopeful there may be a slight influx of players from throughout the region – from Memramcook to Cape Tormentine.
Due to the escalating cost of ice rental and other factors it will be necessary to increase the player registration between 20 and 30 dollars this year while an appeal for a grant increase from the town is being prepared. The cost per player in the system works out to about $1,000 a year.
Trenholm notes that the system has turned out some excellent players over the years – from Billy Harris to a number who have gone on to play at the university level to the crop drafted in 2014. It also is the development area for the Titans.
He believes there are many more fantastic players being developed – mentioning Abbie Morice, who was recently chosen as one of five athletes from Canada to attend the final of the World soccer championships in Brazil.
“We have excellent coaches, fine officials and an energetic group of young athletes here in Sackville,” he stresses, “and therefore good things must follow.”