AHMA brings new boards for half-ice hockey
The Aylmer Minor Hockey Association (AHMA) unveiled its brand-new set of boards for the Novice half-ice program, on February 23, bringing plenty of excitement for the next year’s hockey season.
According to AHMA President Daniel Dupuis, the association was intending to purchase a new set of boards at the end of the 2020 hockey season.
But after being contacted by the President of the La Lievre de Gatineau Minor Hockey Association, Vincent Britt-Guy, a few weeks ago, stating that his new boards didn’t fit on the Buckingham Arena’s ice surface, Dupuis was thrilled to take them off his hands.
Last week, rink attendants installed the boards for the very first time, during an activity for Peewee players to learn about refereeing, and Dupuis met with each coach of the local Novice teams to teach them how to install and take them down.
Officially launched in the Outaouais at the start of the 2019-20 season, Hockey Canada’s novice half-ice program is designed to give young hockey players a chance to develop in an environment that allows them to work on their skills and grow confidence by being closer to the action every step of the way.
Admittedly skeptical of the program’s effectiveness at first – having been accustomed to regular hockey for so many years – Dupuis said that Novice half-ice hockey has been a significant success.
“The kids are so tired when they get off the ice,” he said. “The ones who aren’t as good get to touch the puck a little bit more often than on a full ice. For the ones who would typically dominate on full ice and get like 10 breakaways per game, that doesn’t happen anymore because they’re in a more restrained area.”
“They say it’s going to be great for the development of the kids,” he said. “I’m almost sold on it. I think this year it went well.”
For its first year with the program, the AHMA divided the ice surface using one-foot-tall blue pads, which often caused stoppages of play when they were accidentally displaced by the players, Dupuis said.
But next year, parents can expect to see their little ones playing with a set of regulation-sized boards, which Dupuis believes will benefit their playing environment even more.
While the boards came with a several thousand-dollar price tag, Dupuis explained that a substantial sponsorship deal with Scotiabank will help them subsidize the entire cost of the initiative.
“It’s a bonus,” he said. “Everything happened for the right reasons.”
Despite the regular season having finished at the start of February, the boards will be in place for this year’s Aylmer Cup in the spring, Dupuis said.