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Our annual look at hockey in Greater Victoria


B2 • VICTORIA NEWS • OAK BAY NEWS • SAANICH NEWS • GOLDSTREAM NEWS GAZETTE

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

VICTORIA NEWS • OAK BAY NEWS • SAANICH NEWS • GOLDSTREAM NEWS GAZETTE • B3

Don Denton/News staff

Goalie Kerrie Proudlove keeps her eye on the puck during a rec hockey game at the arena in the Oak Bay Recreation Centre. Proudlove fills in at goal for several teams each week. Hundreds of men and women in Greater Victoria play rec hockey on a weekly basis.

Rec hockey: ‘espresso shot’ of life T asked with writing about rec hockey, the easy thing to do would be to write about the exercise, the camaraderie and all that. That’s not all crap, but those things are not the main reason so many of us are leaving home to strap on fetid equipment while more sane people are resting comfortably for the night. What beer league is about is feeling your best and your worst. It’s a twice-a-week espresso shot of life. Everyone takes chances simply because we need to challenge ourselves. Sometimes you pull it off – maybe you hit the right notes in your choir or you make it though an entire spin class. Other times you fall on your face. Jim Zeeben This is what every shift Last word of rec league hockey is about. This is not a kids’ game, though it’s a much more realistic goal for every kid who straps on a pair of skates. Making the NHL would be great, but so would winning the lottery. Good genes, great coaching and a lot of luck are beyond our control. On the other hand, playing rec hockey can require little more than a telephone and a credit card. Playing beer league also requires you to win an argument with your wife, for once, and doing something for yourself

regardless of whether it makes sense. Most wives or girlfriends eventually understand they’re getting a morebalanced human being in exchange for putting up with the smelly gear and occasional deadbeat mornings.

What beer league hockey is really about, and what really upsets those who sniff at the very idea of it, is allowing yourself to be competitive. There is the exercise, there is camaraderie and, yes, there is beer. (The next three paragraphs have been redacted for legal reasons). But enough about the beer. The most common reason for rationalizing why we’re willing to leave a perfectly comfortable couch and head out into the dark to get undressed with a bunch of aging men is that we’re doing it for the exercise. I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve seen break out into a sweat, huffing and puffing as they exert themselves. It gets even worse once they finish bending over to tie their skates and actually hit the ice for a shift or two.

At the end of the game, when the pads come off, you’ll see soaked T-shirts and everyone’s adrenaline is running high. According to an online exercise calculator, if you’re on the ice for half a game, you’ll burn about 500 calories. That’s not much more than you could walk off in an hour. Given the choice between going for a brisk walk (which rules out golfing) or chasing a puck, I’ll take the latter. As far as camaraderie goes, growing older means outgrowing friends. And the pace of a working life means there’s little time to hang out even with those few friends you’re lucky enough to hang onto. But pull a rank bag of germy gear over your shoulder, grab a stick and cross the threshold into a dressing room and you’re instantly among a band of brothers. And the funny thing is, most of the guys who play adult hockey – despite the protests of an aging body and grousing of spouses – are exceptionally genuine. Smart, too. I’ve played with doctors, architects, lawyers, CEOs and steel workers. And that was just in the last year. All manner of professions are represented, though what you do off the ice is among your least important qualities when you’re on it. Which might explain why, despite the quality of otherwise noble minds, so many players turn into idiots between the whistles. I’ve played against good cops whose antics would crash YouTube if they were in uniform.

Guys with PhDs who curse like vocational school dropouts after taking one slash in the corner. Then the buzzer goes, the swearing subdues and everyone shakes hands. Any animosity quickly fades into the shadows, ready to leap out the next time we play those guys. What beer league hockey is really about, and what really upsets those who sniff at the very idea of it, is allowing yourself to be competitive. That means putting yourself into a situation where you can look a fool, utterly disappointing all your fast friends and rendering hollow the conversation on the bench. But there are also moments, silly as it sounds, when you feel you’ve channelled an ancient warrior. You win the face-off, make a sweet pass or beat the goalie, knowing your play has sent shivers of anguish through the other team. When you finally fall asleep that night, these visions will fill your dreams. In every rink, you’ll hear the adages that’s it’s just for fun, or, everyone’s got to work the next day. But when the puck drops, no one is thinking of those things. It’s time to make the other guys feel like crap by scoring a few goals on them, knowing they’re trying to do the same. You sweat, you win, you lose, you curse, you laugh, you hurt. But when it’s over, you can’t wait until you get to do it all over again. editor@saanichnews.com


B4 • VICTORIA NEWS • OAK BAY NEWS • SAANICH NEWS • GOLDSTREAM NEWS GAZETTE 

Thrills, not spills

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Goalies beware – midget rec hockey can expect a boon in scoring, thanks to a no body checking rule

Travis Paterson News staff

A

s the bantam and midget boys’ hockey leagues rev up for the 2011-12 season, they’re enjoying a buzz like they haven’t heard in a long time – the recently-approved ban on body checking. Initially, local minor hockey association presidents praised the move, in terms of its safety factor for the bantam (ages 13 and 14) and midget (15 to 17) divisions. Conversely, concern has been raised about the development of late-bloomers and rec league callups, who crack the rosters of rep teams, where checking remains. But there is no appetite to go back. Body checking is gone from the rec levels and now it’s safe to explore the fun side of the decision: what type of hockey are we going to see in the bantam and midget leagues? Fast, that’s a given, but the speed and skill will continue to develop as players get used to it, said Ian Turner, longtime high performance coach with girls rep hockey at the highest levels in Victoria and on Vancouver Island. “A lot of it is pins and rubs, dozens of small checks that will no longer be allowed. “Coaches are always pushing

Travis Paterson/News staff

Justin Geddie, 10, and Jarod Timmins, 12, skate in the Victoria Ice Hawks prep camp to get ready for the 2011-12 season. Timmins will play rep hockey this year with body checking, while Geddie is in atom, the last year of rep hockey without body checking. NHL’s removal of clutch and grab (in 2005). Players will have to skate and manage the puck – no more moving a guy off the puck.” Turner would know. He’s seen plenty of boys rep teams, both bantam and midget, play nonbody checking exhibition games against his girls’ teams.

kids to keep their head up, but you can’t learn to deke when your head is up, just like you can’t learn to juggle with your eyes closed,” Turner said. What we can expect is a willingness to take chances with dekes and skill moves. “It will be along the lines of the

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“When we play boys the same age, they often have a hard time with the girls in the other situations, particularly in scrums in the corner where girls are much tougher and harderworking. “If you want a prime example, look at the women’s national

team – prior to the 2010 Olympics they played in Alberta’s midgetAAA boys league. “Those were very skilled games where players aren’t getting nailed, but there was lots of physical play.” Perhaps scorekeepers then should sharpen their pencils. Island scoring records may fall. Girls usually make up about 10 per cent of the registered hockey players on the South Island. Will the removal of body checking attract those girls to play bantam rec hockey who previously would have avoided it because of the contact? There is a trend for girls not to avoid playing with boys once body checking is introduced, but the numbers are too low to draw any conclusions. The greatest question remaining at the boys’ bantam and midget non-hitting levels is yet to come. Within three years both leagues will be populated with a majority of players who came up without hitting as a constant worry on the ice. How much more skill those players develop and how they adapt when called up to the openice hitting bantam and midget rep levels will be interesting to watch and a challenge for which organizations will have to find answers. sports@vicnews.com

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VICTORIA NEWS • OAK BAY NEWS • SAANICH NEWS • GOLDSTREAM NEWS GAZETTE • B5

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It isn’t just about putting on a hockey game. We all know how much competition there is out there right now for a person’s entertainment dollar.

Hockey business Quality, creativity, partnerships key to hockey profits

Erin McCracken News staff

O

perators of for-profit hockey clubs are constantly battling perceptions of their industry. “You try to make sure you make money, but it’s not the way people think,” said Reza Binab, manager and part owner of the Victoria Grizzlies Junior A hockey team, who shied away from explaining his team’s profitablity. The team, like its paying fans, is not immune to greater economic conditions. As many as 1,700 fans came to home games at Bear Mountain Arena in Colwood last year, down from the 1,800 to 2,100 fans attracted the previous season. Nurturing relationships between the club and the greater community – from fans to advertisers – get teams through tough times. “You put a seed there and you water the

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seed and what happens is it grows,” Binab said. “You make sure when it’s growing that you take care of it, and if you don’t take care of it, it’s going to go sideways, and you want to avoid that.” Excitement over the WHL’s Victoria Royals setting up shop may give lowerlevel hockey teams a boost, said John Meldrum, assistant professor with the University of Victoria’s School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education. “It could bring more interest in junior hockey in general,” he said, noting research on professional sports shows when one team does well, it helps other teams in the area. Regardless of the Royals hype, creative marketing will be crucial to the team’s long-term success, said Darren Parker, Victoria Royals’ senior vice-president of sales and marketing. “We’ll get a bit of a honeymoon period where people want to come out,” said Parker, who has faith that team rivalries and the Western Hockey League’s reputation will keep the momentum going. Managing a hockey club is not as simple as putting players on the ice. Operating expenses – from travel costs and away games to marketing and staffing – must always remain in check. “It’s quite a complicated business model,” said Parker, who also shied from revealing the team’s financial details. Season ticket sales are the backbone of the operation, leading to concession and merchandise sales, advertising and corporate sponsorship revenue, he said. A high calibre of hockey that provides

Sharon Tiffin/News staff

Darren Parker, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for the Victoria Royals, holds some of the merchandise available at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. ticket holders with good entertainment value for their dollars will be a key component to building a loyal fan base and creating a hockey enterprise that enjoys longevity, Meldrum said. Those who run the business side of the Victoria Royals have included this in their

recipe for success. “It isn’t just about putting on a hockey game,” Parker said. “We all know how much competition there is out there right now for a person’s entertainment dollar.” emccracken@vicnews.com

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B6 • VICTORIA NEWS • OAK BAY NEWS • SAANICH NEWS • GOLDSTREAM NEWS GAZETTE

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Welcoming the Royals: Anticipat Victoria players gear up for first Travis Paterson News staff

T

Travis Paterson/News staff

Victoria Royals’ goalie Braden Gamble and defenceman Emerson Hrynyk await their shift as teammates scrimmage at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

he clues to predicting the Victoria Royals’ success this season are in the players’ offseasons. Emerson Hrynyk, for example, just made his second straight visit to Victoria this summer. Last year the defenceman came here to work out with trainer Jeff Compton as a member of the Prince Albert Raiders. This year he had planned to come again when his new team, the Chilliwack Bruins, came with him. Compton was recently hired to lead the Royals in conditioning and everything has come together for Hrynyk. When the off-season arrived, it being the only real chance for a hockey player to bulk up, Hrynyk was ready. “Right away I did two weeks of (easy workouts) and eating, lots of eating, and I quickly bulked up to 215 lbs,” said the 6-foot-2, soon-to-be 19 year old. Then it was go time. “Plyometrics, one-onones with Compton, two-a-day workouts, cold tubs, strength tests and stair running every Saturday,” Hrynyk said. By the start of the Royals’ Aug. 29 training camp Hrynyk was already down to 205 lbs. He’ll try to hang on to whatever mass he can but it’s inevitable a few more pounds will slip away due to the demands of the 72 game WHL schedule. Questions surround the Royals as the preseason begins. Will they be competitive? Yes, because they always are. In five years the Bruins finished above .500 just once, yet

Oscar Moller, second Los Angeles Kings. Has games since 2008. Nick Holden, undrafte agent 2008 with Colum Played five NHL games

managed to make the pl And now they have an Save-On-Foods Memoria boast a maximum 7,400 night against the Vancou “It’s going to be unreal The blueliner’s big, bu on the team’s rugged de group’s physical nature w team’s greatest strength on Vancouver Island this counted on heavily as of premium. The key changes from graduation of top-scorin captain Brandon Mannin of the first line, Ryan Ho Manning had 21 goals, H Kevin Sundher is a can ‘C’ this year, coming ove leading Chilliwack in sco

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VICTORIA NEWS • OAK BAY NEWS • SAANICH NEWS • GOLDSTREAM NEWS GAZETTE • B7

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 

tion grows as city’s new WHL team hits the ice season: ‘It’s going to be unreal’ Royals alumnus find their place in ‘The Show’

d round pick 2007 by s 26 points in 87 NHL

ed, signed as free mbus Blue Jackets. in 2010-11.

layoffs four times. n even bigger boost, as al Centre is expected to fans for opening uver Giants on Sept. 24. l,” Hrynyk said. ut not the biggest efensive corps. The will be one of the hs as it asserts itself s year. And it will be ffence will be at a

m last year are the ng defenceman and ng, as well as two-thirds owse and Roman Horak. Howse 51 and Horak 26. ndidate to wear the er to the Royals after oring.

“Losing those guys will take a toll on us, would take a toll on any team,” Sundher said. “We have to make up 100 goals, so far we’ve got lots of guys doing the right things this summer. For Sundher it has meant coming back into camp just as he left at 6-feet-tall, 180 lbs., right where the Buffalo Sabres instructed him. The Sabres’ third-round NHL draft pick in 2010, Sundher will be leaned on hard to match his 52 assists from last year. “When the season ended I was 180 and that’s what they (asked) – but my speed and strength are better,” Sundher said. There’s a chance that Sundher, who was the fourth-fastest skater in the Sabres’ main camp last year, might not come back to the Royals after the Traverse City NHL rookie tournament beginning on Sept. 10. As tough as it sounds, some form of breakout season is expected from 2009 first round bantam pick Steven Hodges, who scored 11 points as a 16 year old last year but is also one of the fastest players in the league. Same goes for Brandon Magee who managed 12 goals and 29 points and returns as a 17 year old. At 6-foot-5, 200 lbs., 15-year-old defenceman Keegan Kanzig, the teams’ first round draft pick from 2010, will likely make the team but he won’t be quarterbacking the power play the way Manning did, scoring 53 points in his final season of eligibility as a Bruin last year. No matter what the roster looks like, Hrynyk and company will ensure the Royals are one of the league toughest teams to play against. sports@vicnews.com

Don Denton/News staff

Victoria Royals coach Marc Habscheid chats with player Kevin Sundher in the arena hallway on the second day of Main Camp at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

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B8 • VICTORIA NEWS • OAK BAY NEWS • SAANICH NEWS • GOLDSTREAM NEWS GAZETTE

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rebuilding project Victoria Grizzlies rework lineup after core players land coveted university scholarships Edward Hill

Joel Gordon, in red, gets by Carson Spooner at the Victoria Grizzlies tryout camp last month at Juan de Fuca Arena. There will be many new faces when the Grizzlies open their 2011-12 campaign later this month, as many veterans have left the team to play hockey at the university level.

News staff

A

s teenagers in red and grey jerseys fight for the puck at the Grizzlies rookie camp at Juan de Fuca arena, the pressure is mounting, perhaps more than they know. Five out of 50 hopefuls might make the cut for what is a rebuilding year for Victoria’s Junior A hockey squad. A tough loss for the team, but a testament to its player development was the fact at least a dozen of the Grizzlies’ top veterans secured NCAA or Canadian university hockey scholarships this year. Key offensive lines are hollowed out. “We’ve lost high-end players and now we’ve got to replace them. Obviously there’s (returning players) Wesley Myron, Wade Murphy and Mike Colantone,” notes Vic Gervais, assistant coach and general manager. ”We’ve acquired Brad Gehl, a six-foot-three power forward, a goal scorer.” The cycle of players aging out or moving to universitylevel hockey is a yearly challenge for Junior A teams, although losing so many at once is unusual and puts pressure on the remaining veterans. “To lose that many guys is a big chunk. Some of the best players are (gone), but it gives younger guys the opportunity to step up and take over,” says Reza Binab, co-owner and business manager.

Sharon Tiffin/ News staff

“The kids coming up are phenomenal. They are in great shape physically and mentally. Give the younger guys a year, and then they explode. They just need that year to gain confidence.” Gone are key players such as David Morely, Madison Dias and Joel Lowry, who was injured for half of last

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VICTORIA NEWS • OAK BAY NEWS • SAANICH NEWS • GOLDSTREAM NEWS GAZETTE • • B9

Rule experiment

Sharon Tiffin/News staff

ABOVE: Joey Kitzler shows his stuff at Victoria Grizzlies rookie camp at Juan de Fuca Arena. LEFT: Grizzlies brass Dennis Taylor, left, Don Robinson and Victor Gervais evaluate players. In the post-season shakeup, team owner Len Barrie announced they would seek a new head coach. As this story went to press, it apperared that Barrie would guide the team to start and oversee main training camp, starting Sept. 3. Other changes have been since last season. “We bought some players, we traded some guys,” Gervais said. “It was a tough loss last year, but we tried to go for it.” Adding fuel to the fire this season, four of

the top teams in each division will make the playoffs. Previously, seven of the eight made it into the first round. “Every game this year is important – there’s not one game where you can take a day off,” Gervais says. “We’re going to see a level of hockey that’s much higher for that reason. It’s crucial to get a good start.” In terms of other competition – as in the WHL

Victoria Royals – even that won’t be much of a problem, according to Binab. Of the Grizzlies’ 32 regular season home games and the Royals’ 36, only one date conflicts. “The Royals are different, are brand new. They’ll draw good but then we’ll see what happens,” he says. “Victoria is a hockey-minded city. You’ve got to have a winning club.” editor@goldstreamgazette.com

It’s a rule change that’s piqued the interest of the NHL but will be test-driven by Junior B players in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Starting with the pre-season, a team causing a stop in play won’t be able to change lines. VIJHL president Greg Batters says the change will alter the dynamics of the game and allow for better player development. “We are trying to provide a better development model for the league, for players, coaches and referees,” he said. “We are trying to free up players from line matching.” The rule change also prevents teams from stopping play and changing lines as a tactic to stop the pressure of an attack. Batters told Russ Courtnall about the change, who put the bug in Wayne Gretzky’s ear.

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B10 • VICTORIA NEWS • OAK BAY NEWS • SAANICH NEWS • GOLDSTREAM NEWS GAZETTE

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Equal opportunity Women (and girls) make huge strides in the hockey world Natalie North News staff

I

n Jennifer Mathieson’s first year of peewee hockey, she was one of three girls on the Saanich Braves team when she overheard unsavoury advice coming from the bench next to hers. “All they said is ‘Boys, hit the girls,’” she recalled of the opposing coaches’ advice to the 11- and 12-year-old players during an away game in Vancouver. Mathieson, now 17, would later score a goal off of a hit to help the Braves win what she described as a “hard-working” game, one she’ll never forget. At Pearkes Arena, where she coaches seven and eight year olds at a skills camp, Mathieson remembered some of the roughest moments in her minor hockey career. As someone who played on mixed teams until she was 12, and again now as part of Spectrum community school’s hockey academy, she knows how to handle the opposite sex on the ice. “My dad was on the bench and he was proud to see us at the end of the day still standing. He was proud to see all of us girls not let the guys push us around.”

The camaraderie that goes along with female hockey is huge. There’s a huge age range there, but we’ve really bonded as a team.

History lesson Women’s ice hockey in Canada date back to the 1890s, One of the first professional teams were the Vancouver Amazons from the 1920s. The first international sanctioned tournament was held in Ottawa in 1990. Women’s hockey was included in the Olympics for the first time in 1998.

The influence of her Mathieson’s father and longtime coach, Mark, was a key factor in her decision to play hockey at age seven. After gaining some experience, she became convinced of another good idea: that playing against boys would give her tougher competition. The same wasn’t true for Teri Cotton, a veteran of the local hockey scene and a member of the first women’s team in Victoria. When Cotton and her younger sister played at age nine and eight, respectively, their parents attempted to register the girls in the Victoria Minor Hockey Association. They attempted to disguise the girls –

hiding their younger daughter’s hair under a ball cap – but the girls were rejected based on gender. In 1965, Cotton’s father, Bob Lindal, founded the B.C. Girls’ Ice Hockey Association and coached femaleonly games out of the Esquimalt Recreation Centre. Her mother, Edna Lindal, took on a slew of supportive roles to make it happen, from registering girls to darning hockey socks. Cotton has since showed the naysayers. Not only has she served as president of Victoria Minor Hockey and been an adult member of the organization for 23 years, she’s held several local and provincial positions with B.C. Hockey and was the branch provincial co-ordinator for female hockey development. She still plays with members of her original hockey team on the Victoria Stingers (they started as the Carson Bulldozers), and is still playing on the ice at Archie Browning arena. A former coach and referee for girls’ hockey, she also co-ordinated the first midget girls’ provincial tournaments. “The more high-performance programs you have or provincial championships that you have that promote and foster female hockey at that level, it creates more

opportunities for people to come in at the recreational level,” she said. Forty-five years since the Bulldozers were formed, Cotton is now the oldest member of her team. She sometimes even plays against her daughter, Breanna, a member of the Island Pacific Phantoms. Cotton’s love of the game fuels her satisfaction at others’ successes, whether it’s new high school grads receiving hockey scholarships or a 50-year-old rookie teammate who finally got the hockey stick she always wanted for Christmas. “Hockey’s a game you can play for life,” Cotton said. “You can start playing when you’re three years old and you can play forever.” Cotton listed her friendships formed through hockey – she has maintained many of those relationships more than 20 years – as standing out most during her time in the game. “The camaraderie that goes along with female hockey is huge. There’s a huge age range there, but we’ve really bonded as a team.” Susie Sherman, female development co-ordinator for the Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association got involved in the sport 14 years ago when her kids first signed up for hockey. Based in Sooke, Sherman is in the

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011 

trenches, recruiting new female members to build the program and outfitting girls through a gear exchange. This year Sherman was instrumental in forming a committee within the VIAHA with the mandate of further developing female hockey. How that goal will be achieved, Sherman is not yet certain. Improved structure and more ice time for female teams is likely part of the answer to the question: how do you recruit female players without more teams to place them on? Girls don’t just join teams, Sherman explained, they’ll often have to see young girls playing before the desire is born. One of the biggest challenges in building female hockey, Sherman said, remains the attitude toward girl players, especially from parents. “There’s still a lot of parents and people who don’t see hockey as a sport for girls,” she said. “When I was growing up, I didn’t have the opportunity. It was such a boys’ sport.” Opportunities aside, playing with the boys is one element to hockey that Mathieson just can’t do without. “When we played with the boys, they knew we were girls, but they knew we could compete just as well as they could,” she said. Any girls or women interested in joining an all-female team can contact Sherman at 250-642-5723. nnorth@saanichnews.com

VICTORIA NEWS • OAK BAY NEWS • SAANICH NEWS • GOLDSTREAM NEWS GAZETTE • B11

Don Denton/News staff

Jennifer Mathieson started playing hockey at seven and now coaches kids at George R. Pearkes Arena in Saanich in the Edges on Ice program. “When we played with the boys, they knew we were girls, but they knew we could compete just as well as they could.”

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Sept. 7 2011 Home Ice Advantage  

Complete September 7, 2011 issue of Home Ice Advantage

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