BY ZACHARY CORMIER
The Blackfalds Minor Hockey Association (BMHA) has been happy with the first half of the 2016-17 season after making a couple of changes at the beginning of the year.
“I think it’s been pretty successful. We’ve had a few changes this year. We’ve joined a new league — we’re in the Central Alberta Hockey League (CAHL) this year — along with Lacombe and several other teams in the area and the transition has actually been pretty good,” said BMHA President Wade Anderson during an interview with the Express earlier this week.
Prior to this season, competitive teams in the BMHA from Atom through Midget played in the North Central Minor Hockey Association (NCMHA).
According to Anderson, the decision to leave the NCMHA and join CAHL came in part due to a desire to continue to compete with teams in their area and because the increased number of teams and divisions would allow for better competition.
He noted that overall, playing in CAHL has been beneficial for Blackfalds teams due to the large amount of time and effort that the league puts into making sure all teams are slotted into a tier that allows them to be competitive, which makes for a more successful season.
“I think all of our teams are tiered properly and in a competitive division where they should be,” he said, adding that overall travel time hasn’t increased very much for teams, either.
Instead of going two hours east to Hughenden, Killam, Sedgewick, or Daysland; now teams are going south to Strathmore, Cochrane or Airdrie, Anderson said.
Heading into the Christmas break, the Blackfalds Bantam Tier 4 team was leading the CAHL Tier 4 North division with a 5-0-2 record while several other teams, such as the Peewee Tier 6 and Atom Tier 2 teams were also holding down competitive positions within their divisions.
Blackfalds teams will be hitting the ground running coming out of the break. In January alone, the BMHA is scheduled to host two tournaments, including a Peewee tournament this coming weekend and an Atom tourney from Jan. 20-22nd.
“Blackfalds is fairly well known for hosting good tournaments. We always have a lot of teams throughout Alberta wanting to get into our tournaments, including city teams from Calgary or Edmonton. It’s always an exciting time for the kids,” said Anderson, noting that volunteers also put in a lot of hours to make sure tournaments are successful.
In addition to the two tournaments, the association will also host the annual Cody Dennis Memorial game at the end of the month.
The annual fundraiser is put on by the Dennis family in memory of their son Cody, a BMHA goalie who was killed in a car accident in June 2004.
“It’s always a good event, always a great turnout and a great fundraiser. The Dennis family always looks for different ways to support Blackfalds Minor Hockey with the money raised from it,” said Anderson, noting that in the past the money from Cody’s Memorial Fund has been used for everything from the purchase of goalie equipment to socks, even putting on goalie clinics.
The 2017 Cody Dennis Memorial game will take place on Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. at the Blackfalds Multiplex.