New structure for top tier minor hockey programs

Zone teams in minor hockey have been created in the Okanagan to boost level of midget and bantam competition

The midget and bantam tier 1 boys hockey programs in Kelowna have merged with Winfield under a new arrangment by BC Hockey

The tier 1 levels of both midget and bantam hockey in the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association have been restructured for the 2016-17 season.

An initiative by BC Hockey, the new alignment brings together different local associations to form zone teams in each region.

The restructuring is designed to give more kids the opportunity to play at a higher level, while creating better overall competition.

The newly-formed Central Zone team, named the Rockets, combines the Kelowna and Winfield associations, with Kelowna serving as the host community.

The South Zone, based in Summerland, also includes players from West Kelowna, Penticton and Osoyoos.

The North Zone team includes the associations of Salmon Arm, Vernon and Sicamous, with Salmon Arm as the host association.

And the Thompson Zone, based in Kamloops, encompasses the surrounding area, including Chase.

Prince George will continue to operate as a singular association and will be one of five teams to compete at the OMAHA tier 1 midget and bantam levels.

Lee Hamilton, the head coach of the Central Zone midget tier 1 Rockets this season, is a big proponent of the new configuration.

“I think it makes for healthier competition, more kids in the smaller towns will get a chance to play at a higher level, so I think that can only be positive in the long run,” said Hamilton who last year coached the Kelowna midget tier 1 Rockets.

“It’s a feeling out process right now, there will likely be some growing pains, but I think it will be just a matter of going through the process and working out the kinks.”

This Saturday, Hamilton’s Central Zone team will play host the Thompson Zone squad. Face off at Memorial Arena is 3 p.m.


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