As the end of the local ice hockey season approaches, minor hockey players can find solace in the knowledge that its warm-weather equivalent will be starting soon on home “ice” to fill the void. Players can switch their hockey skates for sneakers for a warmer hockey experience in the Cavan Monaghan Community Centre this spring, following the footsteps of hockey greats including Steve Yzerman, Corey Perry and Connor McDavid, who all played ball hockey in their youth.
Ball Hockey is an exciting and affordable way to experience Canada’s game. This local league was founded by Guye Vondette in 2017, when it began with four teams. Before the 2020 season was cancelled, the league had registrations to fill 24 teams, despite competition from a new competing league. It didn’t seem to matter: this season, Vondette is expecting to field about 45 teams.
Because the numbers in this league keep climbing, Vondette is launching an East division in Norwood this season, referring to the Millbrook division as the West division.
Registration is now open for the club which is a certified, insured league operating through the Ontario Ball Hockey Association. There are now six divisions from squirt to bantam (U6 to U17) so local youngsters ages four to sixteen now have the chance to play. Most of the action occurs in one hour slots on weeknights from 6 to 9 pm with the Squirts playing on Saturday mornings.
The league is fully-insured and certified by the Ontario Ball Hockey Association, following its rules and regulations. Games consist of two, sixteen minute periods with six players on the floor and controlled by certified referees.
Until last season, one of the referees on the floor was usually Vondette, but given the expansion experienced by the league, more help has been required. Each house league team aims to have five volunteer coaches or assistants. There is no certification required and those interested can indicate that on the registration form or by contacting the league. For the younger teams, Vondette explains that ball hockey or ice hockey players can acquire high school community service hours in this league by helping younger teams as assistants and trainers.
The season begins on April 11th after the Easter long weekend. In Norwood, it starts on May 8th because the ice in that arena stays in a little longer. The season wraps up at the end of June, but each division will select a team to participate in the annual provincial competition this year that happen during the summer. Last season the league sent four teams to the provincials: Tyke, Novice, Atom and Peewee. All teams did well, with the Atom team securing the “A” division championship.
In 2019, Vondette’s dedication to the sport was recognized provincially, when he was awarded the Ontario Ball Hockey Association Executive of the year. This year he has taken on a provincial responsibility as Chair of the 25 Youth Leagues for the Ontario Ball Hockey Association. To say he is dedicated to the support is an understatement.
The league is still looking for team sponsors, coaches and assistants. For more information about this summer recreational opportunity or to register, visit the website at www.peterboroughballhockey.com or contact Guye Vondette by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. KG