West Grey and Hanover minor hockey associations working to amalgamate, News (West Grey Minor Hockey)

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West Grey and Hanover minor hockey associations working to amalgamate
Submitted By Erin Schreinert on Mon 02 06, 23
The West Grey Minor Hockey and Hanover Minor Hockey Associations are one step closer to joining forces and becoming the Saugeen Valley Steelheads when the puck drops next season.

Last year, both minor hockey boards voted in favour of amalgamating due to falling numbers and volunteer support.Eighty-one per cent of eligible voters who cast a ballot in the West Grey vote favoured amalgamating with Hanover, while 69 per cent of Hanover voters chose to move forward with the process.

Alex Neuman serves as a centre contact for the West Grey Minor Hockey Association and is the vice president of the Western Ontario Athletic Association (WOAA). He said the committees are now working on creating a logo and jerseys for the Steelheads. The new organization will also need new bylaws and rules of operations as well.

The bond is not yet official.

First, the boards will have to present their plan to the WOAA for approval. The WOAA will then recommend the two centres’ amalgamation to the Ontario Minor Hockey Association in the final step in the process. If the OMHA signs off on the agreement then the Steelheads are moving forward. Both the new Saugeen Valley Minor Hockey name and the Steelheads nickname were selected by membership vote in January.

Some other nickname suggestions were Knighthawks, Surge, Whalers and Vikings.

Amalgamation isn’t all too uncommon in the WOAA. The Mid-Huron Huskies provide the latest example, Neuman said, created when the Seaforth and Bayfield-Clinton-Hensall minor hockey associations officially joined together this season.

In 2012, the Durham and Ayton-Normanby associations combined to create the West Grey Minor Hockey group.

“It worked for us then. It was successful then,” Neuman said. “It’s happening all over and it’s probably going to happen more and more.”

Neuman estimated the West Grey association’s player pool dropped 25 to 30 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic when public health measures prevented full-fledged programming.

The drop in numbers resulted in a drop in competition and fairness, Neuman said. The association struggled to put teams together, and players were jumping between the local league and rep teams.

Neuman said the amalgamation should help fill out the new association’s teams and ensure players playing in their appropriate categories.

It also gives the new minor hockey associations three ice surfaces to share.

The drawbacks include the up-front costs associated with starting a minor hockey association from scratch and increased travel for parents.

“We felt it was necessary for both organizations, to be viable in the next five to 10 years, we needed to do something. We needed to be proactive and get ahead of the issues rather than fall behind,” Neuman said.

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Printed from westgreyminorhockey.com on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at 10:38 AM