Monday, July 22, 2024

Pontiac’s recreational hockey program is back

Sophie Kuijper Dickson
Campbell’s Bay Oct. 25, 2023
Young Pontiac hockey players will soon be able to get ice time, and a coach, without joining the minor league.
After a two-year hiatus caused by the covid-19 pandemic, the MRC Pontiac’s recreational hockey program is back.
“It’s open to anybody that can put on a pair of skates,” said Darcy Findlay, who will be running this year’s program and also teaches physical education at Pontiac High School.
“The initial goal was to open it up to those who can’t afford the financial or time commitment,” Findlay said. “Some people might not play minor league hockey because of the cost alone.”
Findlay said the focus of the program will be working on individual skill development, including skating and stickhandling.
Shawville resident Amy Taylor was one of the first to enroll her six-year-old son in the program.
He’s in his second year of minor league hockey, and is craving more ice time.
Taylor broke her leg a few years back, and since then hasn’t been able to skate with her son.
“I physically am not able to teach him myself and I wanted to give him more exposure,” she said, adding that the recreational program offers a completely different learning environment than the minor league hockey team.
Findlay agrees with this. He himself grew up playing minor league hockey in Shawville.
He said he still sees great value in the competitive league option, but that the recreational program offers a less structured, more fun atmosphere and an opportunity for kids to play with others not in their age or gender category.
‘A born teacher’
An added selling point, for Taylor, was the coach behind the program.
“As soon as I found out Darcy was running it, I signed up [my son] right away,” she said. “He’s a born teacher with huge hockey experience. I wanted that for my son.”
Findlay’s qualifications for the job are many. His early hockey days include stints with the the Canadian Junior Hockey League and the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League; before receiving his bachelor of education in health and physical education from Bemidji State University in Minnesota, where he played in the North American Hockey League.
He has also coached at the professional level, most recently with the Ontario Hockey League as an associate in Flint, Michigan in 2018-19 and was the captain of the Pontiac Senior Cometsin Fort Coulonge.
The recreational hockey program has always been organized by MRC Pontiac, but run by an organization or member of the community.
Les Maisons des jeunes du Pontiac ran the the last program, which was shut down by covid-19 in the winter of 2020.
This year the program will run from the beginning of November until the beginning of February, and will include four sessions in Shawville and four in Fort-Coulonge.
The cost is $85 for four sessions or $155 for eight.


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