The first season of high school ball hockey in Maple Ridge is in the books, and the Samuel Robertson Technical Titans are the first champions.
SRT won the championship on Tuesday with a 5-2 win over the Maple Ridge Ramblers.
Glenn Whittington was the SRT teacher sponsor with Jenn Boone and said ball hockey is a great sport for high school.
The first leagues in the province were based in Surrey, but in its first year in School District No. 42 a six-team league sprung up.
“The kids were so excited – they all play ball hockey in the community league,” he said.
The rules discourage dirty play, and while players “jostle” for control of the ball, there is no body checking, he said.
“It’s an athletic game, with lots of skill, and its exciting to watch,” said Whittington.
“The ball goes a million miles an hour, and dips and dives.”
Thomas Haney Grade 12 student Curtis Rodgerson was a player and one for the league’s organizers. His team lost to SRT 7-2 in the semi-finals.
“We had a couple of kids on our team who have played for Team B.C.,” he said. “But they had a couple who had played for Team Canada.”
Such is the state of ball hockey here, where there is a well-run league operated by the Ridge Meadows Minor Ball Hockey Association.
“It was awesome,” Rodgerson said of the first high school season.
He organized a meeting at his school to gauge interest, and there were 42 kids who came out. They created two teams, and the younger group of Grade 8-10s got valuable experience.
“They’ll be ready for next season,” he said.
They played a short, six-game regular season, and then a pair of playoff games.
Rodgerson said organizers will need to ensure that the sport continues to be seen as recreational, and that chippy play doesn’t creep in.
Whittington estimated that in three or four years, ball hockey will be under the umbrella of B.C. School Sports, along with mainstream school sports like volleyball and basketball, and there will be a provincial championship.
There is an invitational tournament in Surrey on May 27-29 that will offer some new competition, and a yardstick for the Ridge teams to see how they stack up.
The SRT championship team roster included: Trey Cadwell, Rhys Caverly, Nick Chmiliar, Lars Craik, Josh Douglas, Matt Koehler, Marcus Kot, Braden Lamont, Colton Nikiforuk, Nathan Ollmann, Chase Pederson, Bela Piocza, Josh Rackow, Darian Sommerfeld, Kyron Smith, Peter Van Dregt, Ben West and Zach Wismer.
The team was coached by SRT alumni Cody Moffat, Josh Bortignon and Matt Van Dregt.