Though numbers for the Whistler Minor Hockey Association (WMHA) are down, president Steve Legge said there's an explanation.
A handful of Whistler's older players have left the resort to play the sport at a higher level, leaving the midget rep squad without enough players to ice a team. Some have opted to play at the house level, while others have gone down to Squamish to try out for the rep team there. The loss of the team accounts for the decrease in registration, from roughly 180 to 165.
For example, three Whistler players — Noah Brusse, Owen Reith and Owen Hart — have caught on with the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League's Princeton Posse and will look to work their way up at the junior 'B' level. Legge credits the increase in ability to the Whistler Secondary School's hockey academy.
"We're lighter because we lost a team," Legge said. "They're doing so well because of the academy and their level of play.
"It gives them this opportunity, which is phenomenal, but now we don't have enough kids to form a midget rep team."
Legge said a half-dozen players went to go try out in Squamish, which was happy to welcome the young pucksters to audition. He noted the tables have been turned in previous seasons.
"We've done this the past few years where we've had enough players for a midget rep team but they didn't, so they were coming to us. We were taking three or four kids. This particular year, this current season, the roles were reversed," he said.
In future years, Legge hopes to drum up enough interest to bring back a midget rep team while also expanding the number of little ones playing hockey. The club took initiatives this year, offering free registration for 2011-born players and half-price registration for those born in 2010.
"We're always concerned about the youngest," he said. "That's truthfully our biggest fear."
Legge noted funding for the initiatives comes from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation and Resort Municipality of Whistler's community enrichment grants.
Canucks announce Meadow Park training camp schedule
The Vancouver Canucks will bring a professional flavour to the resort beginning this Friday, Sept. 23.
The NHL squad will kick off its training camp with on-ice sessions at 8:30 a.m., 10:40 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. on that date, following the same schedule for Saturday, Sept. 24 and Monday, Sept. 26 as well.
On Sunday, Sept. 25, the club will hold an on-ice session at 10 a.m. with an intra-squad scrimmage starting at 11:15 a.m.
While stars like veterans Henrik and Daniel Sedin, newly signed Loui Eriksson, defenceman Luca Sbisa, forward Jannik Hansen and goalie Jacob Markstrom will be absent due to their participation in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, fans will still be able to see players like former Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller in net, high draft picks like Jake Virtanen and Bo Horvat, who will strive to get to the next level in the 2016-17 season.
The Canucks will enter the season looking to bounce back from a rough 2015-16 campaign in which they finished second-last in the Western Conference and finished 12 points back of the Minnesota Wild for the final playoff spot.
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