Hockey players in Fort St. James are gearing up for another minor hockey season.
The Fort St. James Minor Hockey Association (FSJMHA) is a non-profit organization that is the home association for over 80 young athletes. The association’s commitment to minor hockey has produced several league, zone and provincial championship teams at different age levels, and has graduated many players into every league from Junior B to the NHL.
This year, there are teams in five age groups, U7, U9, U11, U13 and U15, and each has around 14 to 20 players on their roster.
FSJMHA president Casey Phillips says the turnout and registration has been very positive and bodes well for the future.
“It’s an exciting time for Fort St. James minor hockey,” he said.
The main goal of the association is to increase participation by removing barriers and promoting inclusivity, with the vision of fostering an environment where individuals can participate in minor hockey in a safe and fun manner.
“At FSJMHA, our players learn more than simply the sport of hockey — they learn skills in teamwork, dedication, and respect,” said fundraising coordinator Jessica Rasmussen. “They also make friendships that last a lifetime.”
The Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation has offered the league the use of their outdoor facility for home tournaments, which has led to a great response from visiting teams wishing to experience outdoor hockey, according to Phillips.
FSJMHA Home Tournaments
U15 - Nov. 24, 25, 26
U7 - Dec. 2
U9 - Jan. 27, 28
U13 - Feb. 9, 10, 11
U11 - Mar. 2, 3
All the coaches, managers and board members are volunteers, as the league depends on volunteers to operate.
“We have some amazing dedicated volunteers,” Rasmussen said. “We strive to keep our registration fees as low as possible in order to make hockey accessible to everyone.”
The league also depends on the generosity and support of sponsors, and has formed a society which has opened up a number of fundraising possibilities. This year, a donation as a joint sponsorship from Arrow Transportation and BioNorth Energy will enable the league to purchase jackets for all its players. Each team also has its own sponsor which allows them to enter addition tournaments and participate in more games.
U7 - Nak’azdli Development Corporation
U9 - Pilot Petroleum
U11 - Ubleis Logging
U13 - Tanizul Timber
U15 - Sasuchan Development Corporation
Gainor Holdings and Dave Silver Contracting also made a donation to help purchase equipment for the league.
“Many businesses also support us by having advertising signs up in the Fort Forum — too many to name,” Rasmussen said. “We could not be more grateful for the continuous support and generosity of all of these amazing local businesses.”
The FSJMHA has added a skating skills program that is available to all players, and is in the process of developing a specific program for its goaltenders, as well as a female-only weekly ice time slot.