Non-contact, family-friendly hockey league coming to Airdrie
Airdrie hockey players will have a new option when they lace up their skates next fall.
The city’s minor hockey association has announced plans to join the Foothills Recreation Hockey League (FRHL), which is designed to be family-friendly and features non-contact play.
“There is a need for a non-contact league because there’s a lot of kids going from Atom to Peewee who are afraid to play,” said Tony Gize, currently the Timbits director with the Airdrie Minor Hockey Association (AMHA). He has been trying to get a league like this into Airdrie for more than a year.
“And second, there are a lot of families that are tired of being split up, or who can’t afford the way hockey is designed now, even in house league.”
“There has been plenty of inquiries about it,” said AMHA general manager Greg Wing.
“We’re excited to add it and fill a need.”
The FRHL began in 1995 as a result of the communities of Bragg Creek, Cochrane, Millarville, Priddis, Black Diamond and Canmore, wishing to organize a fun, non-competitive hockey league for children and their families.
The league’s website states: “This is a non-contact league and the rule against body checking is strictly enforced. However, hockey is a fast-moving team sport that may involve physical contact that could lead to injury.”
The FRHL has four levels of play: Tyke for ages five to seven, Novice for eight to 10, Atom for 11 to 13 and Bantam for 14 to 16. Airdrie will field one team in each division. All league games are held on Saturdays during the months of December, January, February and March, weather permitting.
Teams will play 16 games and practice 16 times, with a year-end wrap-up tournament.
Eight games will be at home and three of the 16 games will be played on outdoor rinks.
Recent changes to Calgary minor hockey’s Peewee division, where hitting is no longer allowed, may have an effect on the interest level for non-contact hockey.
Gize said he believes this may be commonplace Alberta-wide within the next two years.
“This is as basic as basic can be for people who just want their kids to play hockey, or for kids who just want to play a game or practice and nothing more,” he said.
“The kids get to concentrate on skill, as opposed to being worried about somebody coming up behind them like a freight train.”
All of the Airdrie teams will play in the same community on the same day, allowing families to travel together, rather than having to split resources.
“That’s the most important, key aspect that we are pushing,” Gize said, adding registration will begin at the start of May.
“If we follow suit to the other associations in their first year, there will be a wait list. So people are encouraged to register (online) as soon as it opens.”