Minor hockey puts wraps on successful season

Lucas Punkari

During his opening remarks at the Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association’s annual awards night Sunday at the Memorial Sports Centre, FFMHA president Wayne Strachan called the 2011/12 season one of the most successful in a number of years.
But the reasons for that success, said Strachan, wasn’t just due to how teams performed in the wins and losses department.
“I think from a league standpoint we had a lot of good helpers during the year,” he noted.
“Early on we had to make a couple of changes on the board and move some people around, and we had a few new faces stand up with some new ideas, which was a great to see.
“The respect that the parents themselves brought to the rink, and that the players had while on the ice, was another good thing to see this year as we didn’t have many suspensions to hand out or disciplinary hearings to deal with,” Strachan added.
“For the most part, the season went pretty smooth, which was good to see.
“And after battling hard the last couple of years, this will hopefully be a sign of what is to come here with minor hockey in the future,” he remarked.
This past season also marked the first time the local ‘AA’ competitive teams in the Atom, PeeWee, Bantam, and Midget ranks all played under the Canadians name, which is something that will continue in the future.
“It was actually something that we wanted to do over the last few years and it was finally able to come to fruition this year,” Strachan said.
“Next year, you are going to see that continue with all of the teams in the Muskie colours with their uniforms, and that is going to single them out when people hear about the Fort Frances Canadians.
“When they go to a tournament, people are going to know who they are,” he stressed.
Looking towards the future, one of the big items the FFMHA board of directors has on its books is to have one of the rinks at the Memorial Sports Centre in use all year round—something that had been discussed to possibly have happen this summer.
“It’s something that has been in the discussion phase for a while now, but it’s never been really pushed until this year,” Strachan noted.
“In talking to the people that we needed to here in town, they felt that it wouldn’t work this year because of some of the other scheduled events in the community this summer,” he said.
“I think that it’s something that we need to do in this town as we have many young kids who are having to travel to Bemidji, Thunder Bay, or Duluth to find a place to skate in during the summer or even play on summer teams.
“I think there’s enough talent in the area that it warrants keeping the ice in,” he stressed.
In order to make sure the town doesn’t run into an issue with unused ice time, Strachan said the FFMHA may look into renting and booking the ice time itself so that the use of the ice sheet is paid for.
“We could also run different specialty clinics during the summer to help the players with their development, so I don’t think there would be much of a problem at all renting the ice,” he reasoned.
“We will have to sit [down] with the proper people here in the future and hopefully they will see our point of view, which we believe is that this added ice time will only help kids in the area, especially those who are pushing to become better and trying to get into better leagues.”