Jonna Z Loves Hockey

December 11

Before I choose what to write about each week I often brainstorm and organize my thoughts. When it came to this topic I couldn’t seem to shut my brain off, there were so many things I wanted to write about, and it just so happens this is my favourite winter activity.

Hockey is no stranger to this town, but the big question is …what is it that makes hockey our game? Our passion? Our desire? It’s amazing to see how many people hockey affects in this community, that one building can bring so many people together, whether its IP1, or Jr. B, there’s always a sense of pride throughout. It’s almost impossible to go into the arena and see an empty ice surface, there is usually a practice, game or shinny going on.

Ice hockey is a team sport in which players use sticks to shoot a hard, round disk into a net. Nearly all equipment for children, amateurs, or professionals is the same. At some point in our lives, almost all of us have laced up and tried out the game. For a lot of people here, young and old, hockey isn’t just a sport.  For some, it’s a fun form of exercise.  Hockey commits you to regular exercise, which helps boost immunity and contributes to overall physical health. For others, hockey is all about the social aspect. You get to hang out with your friends and expand your social skills while having fun. Then there are the people who eat, breath, and sleep hockey. It’s those who play the game with much more than just a stick and puck, but with heart and soul, with passion and pride. For these few, hockey is an obsession that’s born from that very first IP1 jamboree.

Now just because I have been playing the sport for years, doesn’t mean I have experienced everything involved with hockey here in Nipigon.  This winter, I have the opportunity to help coach the Nipigon Elks peewee team, which is something I have never done. While coaching can sometimes test your patience, it also develops it. Patience, along with fair play, having fun, and problem-solving are just some of the valuable lessons taught and learned in this sport, from not only the kids, but coaches too.  It’s an incredible feeling to see kids improve their skills both on and off the ice.

Nowadays you don’t have to be signed up with the Nipigon Elks Minor Hockey Association to enjoy the game. There is often shinny (pick-up hockey where there are no formal rules or specific positions) a couple times a week that is even divided up into age-specific time slots so those who aren’t ready to join a team can practise with other kids/teens.  Full equipment is required for shinny.   Take a look at the Nipigon website, or Facebook page for the weekly ice schedule and shinny times.   The outdoor rink on the tennis courts will also be ready soon.  Use of this rink is free, and there are nets outside for those who want to play some pickup.

One of the most popular nights of hockey in Nipigon is Friday night.  This is when our local Jr. B team has their home games. The place gets a great crowd going, tons of kids, teens, adults and seniors all spread out in the stands cheering on their home team.  That’s the beauty of small-town hockey. You can’t get that kind of atmosphere anywhere else.

There are also tons of hockey tournaments coming up in Nipigon:

  • Holiday Classic December 22nd, 23rd
  • IP1 Jamboree January 6th
  • Bantam/Midget Tournament January 12th, 13th, 14th
  • Nipigon Elks Jr. B Tournament January 19th, 20th,21st
  • Atom Tournament Feb 2nd, 3rd, 4th

It’s going to be a very busy and exciting winter of hockey here in Nipigon, and I cannot wait.

Until next time, exploring the edges of my skates!

– Jonna Z