Inline hockey continues to see impressive growth
There's no longer any ice at Moose Jaw arenas, but that doesn't mean hockey is gone.
The local inline hockey season got underway Tuesday and this year looks to be another promising one for the sport.
"We're quite excited, it's looking good," said league president Jim Cannon. "Our membership is up from last year, which is good. We always want to keep growing."
Higher registration numbers are good, but the fact that youngsters are taking to the sport like never before is an especially promising sign.
"It's nice to see that most of the growth is in the younger (categories), so that bodes well for the future," said Cannon. "We're quite excited that after five years (of the league) there is still some growth."
Three under-8 teams, four under-10 teams and six teams apiece for the under-12 and under-16 categories form the league.
Last year the league featured 155 kids participating. Now, with 170 players and 19 teams this season, the league is nearly bursting at the seams with all the kids it can handle - arena time is hard to come by, even in the summer.
"Between us and lacrosse, we've pretty much got the Kinsmen tapped out right now," said Cannon, adding that the 15 Wing arena has expressed an interest in readying its floor for inline hockey which would open the door to even larger registration potential.
The indoor summer version of hockey is played on inline skates with teams of four skaters, a flat roller puck and no icing or offside infractions.
"It really emphasizes the skill part of the game," said Cannon.
Many ice hockey players use the sport as a way to stay in shape as well as keep their sport-specific skills up to par during the off-season.
"It's all about puck possession and skill," said Cannon. "The very last thing you do in inline is give up the puck. So there's no dump and chase, it's all about the puck. And kids get more time with the puck on their stick than they do in ice hockey, so that's always a good thing."
In addition to regular league play, which runs until July, a high performance team formed from league players will attend tournaments in Medicine Hat in May, and in Red Deer in early June.
Taylor Lambert can be reached at 691-1260