Pennie Pokiak has been re-elected the president of Hay River Minor Hockey.
NNSL file photo

Pennie Pokiak has been elected for another year as president of Hay River Minor Hockey.

“I think this is the first year that someone actually ran against me. I think all the prior years I just kind of kept the portfolio because nobody else wanted it,” Pokiak, who has been president for four or five years, said with a laugh. “So I just stayed in there.”

She said that this year was her opportunity to step down from the presidency.

However, she noted that hockey is important to her.

“I love the sport. I don’t play it, but I do love it,” she said. “And I think it’s important to have an executive that supports the entire association. I think that over the years playing and attending different places you definitely see where some associations just really support the more competitive players and the rest of the players kind of fall to the wayside. Whereas Hay River is a really small community and we support our association equally across the board.”

Pokiak noted that this year’s annual general meeting on May 22 had a bigger than usual turnout.

“More than we’ve had in a very long time. There had to have been probably 20 people, I would say,” she estimated, noting that sometimes five or fewer people might show up for an AGM.

She has no explanation of the big turnout, but said it was great.

Four positions on the executive were up for election.

“We had to vote for every position,” said Pokiak. “There were multiple people that were vying for each position. That was good, too.”

Rachel Durocher was elected vice-president, Jennifer Humbke was chosen secretary and Mary Buckley is treasurer.

The AGM also reviewed the past season and looked forward to the next.

Pokiak said Hay River Minor Hockey returned with about the same numbers – 140-150 players – as before the two-year demolition and rebuild of the Rec Centre.

“I think we came back strong and I think next year it will be even stronger,” she said.

Hay River Minor Hockey includes boys and girls aged from four years to 18 years in six divisions – Initiation, Novice, Atom, Peewee, Bantam and Midget.

Pokiak said there are not enough players to create league play for the various divisions.

“We do try and play divisions against each other where possible,” she noted. “We have some divisions that play against the women’s league and that’s really good for them. The midgets get to play in the rec league. That’s really awesome for them. So there are things that we have been doing, but unfortunately not all groups have been able to benefit from that.”

Pokiak said that means much of what is offered to the players is practice.

“The only game play we really see is if we travel to a tournament or host a home tournament,” she said. “So my goal is to really try to grow the sport, and I think that we need to emphasize next year on actually developing our players.”

Pokiak noted that 2020 is an Arctic Winter Games year so Minor Hockey is planning on starting its season in September, which would be a month early to prepare Bantam and Midget players for tryouts that typically happen in December.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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