The Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association decided at Monday night’s board meeting to drop one team in both its Atom and PeeWee house leagues in order to have a larger number of players on each team.
The PeeWee league will be pared down from five to four teams immediately while the Atom league will switch to three from four after a tournament here in the coming weeks.
“We just didn’t have enough players for the rosters,” FFMHA board member John Pierce said yesterday. “We were going with 10 or 11 players per team, which isn’t enough, and now we will have as many as 13 or 14, which is perfect.”
Pierce said the decision was made to give teams more flexibility in case players are forced to miss games due to other commitments while also helping to ensure teams have enough players when they travel to out-of-town tournaments.
The Thunder Bay Minor Hockey Association requires a minimum of 10 skaters to dress for each tournament game.
“In the case of the PeeWees, the players are getting older, there’s hitting, and the game’s getting a little more rugged so it’s very hard to run a team with five or six forwards and three or four defencemen over a course of a full game,” noted Pierce.
“And then you have tournaments, where you are playing four or five games in a two-day stretch,” he added.
Pierce stressed this change in mid-season isn’t all that uncommon with players constantly moving up to different age groups each year.
But with the change in the number of teams in those age divisions, each league will lose an hour of ice time each week. Picking up that extra ice time is the Midget program, which has “exploded” in terms of registrations this season.
Three Midget house league teams are playing a schedule against the local Bantam B•Macs “AA” rep team and a team from Atikokan.
“The board thinks that it’s a fantastic thing that the Midget league is so strong and we’re pushing for it to continue to grow,” enthused Pierce.
In other news, the clinics for coaches and trainers slated for next month have been confirmed.
The coaches’ clinic will run Nov. 13-15. Cost per coach is $40, with the FFMHA picking up $30 of the cost. The trainers’ one will be held Nov. 7 at a cost of $25 each (minor hockey is covering $10 of the cost).