Fraser Valley hockey program on the power play
When you think of Grand County you probably don’t think Hockey Town, USA. But the growing youth program has just come off a successful season that exceeded the expectations of players and coaches.
Having been part of a hockey program in high school that was not taken seriously at first, I know the frustration and effort needed to become successful and earn respect. Much like the Fraser hockey program, my team was not considered a threat at first, but grew to be one of the better contenders in the state of Maine. My team consisted of a few of us who had played from a young age to kids that laced skates up for the first time during tryouts. When you think of a high school team you do not think of teaching players off-sides and icing in order to play the first game, but that is what we had to work with. Like the Fraser Valley Hockey association, my team was able to build a respected program from the help of dedicated players, parents, and volunteers.
The Fraser Valley Hockey Association, like the rink they play in, was recently built from hard work and dedication. The once tiny hockey community grew through efforts of coaches giving presentations about the game to kids in the local schools, according to Fraser Valley Hockey Association President Dan Osbourne. He credits Dave Dresen who did an enormous amount of ground work including grant writing, choosing infrastructure partners, and contacting other mountain towns with hockey teams to schedule games.
When bantam coach Ryan Gonyea asked his team what they wanted to accomplish this year the answer was simply just to win a game. After a winless season last year the team ended up finishing 2nd in the league this year. This was the first season the bantams were officially in the league as they hardly had enough players to schedule games in years past. Most of these kids have been playing for only a few years, so being able to compete the way they did is a big accomplishment
The Fraser peewees won the Denver North Hockey League’s White Division this year finishing the season undefeated at 21-0-1.
“All of the kids and teams showed tremendous growth this year,” said coach Justin McGuan, “The coaching in every age group was inspiring.”
Eight years ago most of the peewee players were being taught to skate on the original outdoor rink in Fraser adjacent to the Ice Box; now they are competing with players who grew up with a background in hockey, and “bringing the first of many banners to the Ice Box”.
“The association supports the goals of the players and coaches, and facilitates them,” said McGuan. “I would love someday that when people across the state mention Fraser, that it will be accompanied by ‘‘that’s a good hockey town.’”
This year the Learn to Skate and Mite programs consisted of 35-40 kids and the program continues to grow. These young skaters will hopefully be the future of the Fraser Valley Hockey Association.
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Due to current public health guidance, there will not be an in-person wilderness campsite lottery for Rocky Mountain National Park this year.