A free hockey clinic for South Asian youth at the Langley Events Centre on Sunday drew well over 200 participants, based on pre-registration figures released by organizers.
Organizer Robin Dhir said the whole event was put together “literally in a week” to be one of the lead-ups to the world junior hockey championships later this month.
“I figured, let’s do something that would be an opportunity for the South Asian community,” Dhir said.
“Some of them [the kids] have never had skates on before.”
Riley Wiwchar of Hockey Canada called it a “no-brainer.”
“The chance to get kids on the ice that have never played hockey before is kind of the Hockey Canada mandate,” Wiwchar said.
Wiwchar said Hockey Canada is interested in operating similar programs in the future.
“Hopefully, this is something we can use going forward,” he said.
Not all the participants were inexperienced.
Among the kids on the ice were Jovin Pagely and Dylshaan Kajla from Cloverdale, who play together on a minor team.
Pagely said he likes the game because it’s “intense” and played on skates, while Kajla said he was looking forward to skating with top-ranked South Asian players like Harkirat Gill of the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds, Jordan Sandhu, who plays for Arizona State and Manraj Haye, who plays for the UBC Thunderbirds.
“Just getting to know them, what they’ve done,” Kajla said.
Pagely came by his love of hockey by the direct route. His father Jesse is a former BCHL player who spent time on the Cowichan team.
The LEC event was sponsored by Hockey Canada, Canadian Tire and Telus, in cooperation with Kids Play Foundation.
Apna Hockey, a South Asian community-based hockey school,provided skating, hockey skills and off-ice training clinics to youth.
More photos from the day can be viewed online.
The 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship takes place in Vancouver and Victoria from December 26th to January 5th, 2019.