The hockey academy at Yale Secondary is launching a high-performance travel team for boys in the under-16 age group, to begin play this fall.
Yale becomes the second public school in B.C. to have a full-time U16 team, having recently received its approvals from Abbotsford Minor Hockey, BC Hockey and School District 34.
The squad will play a 50-game exhibition schedule from September to June, including a trip to Hockey Canada’s World Sports Schools Challenge in Calgary in December.
“We’re real excited to see this all come together,” said Billy Wilms, program co-ordinator for the Yale Hockey Academy. “Hockey Canada sees this as the way of the future for development . . . They see the remarriage of the hockey system and the education system.”
The team would be comprised of first-year midget-aged players, but Wilms said it’s not designed to draw players away from the B.C. Major Midget League, where most of the elite 15-year-old prospects play.
Rather, the goal is to give 15-year-olds who aren’t quite ready to play against more physically mature 17-year-olds a better chance to develop.
“Sometimes you have situations where you’ve got boys playing against men,” Wilms noted. “This is going to provide a better environment for those 15-year-olds to develop, and hopefully the next year they’re ready to play major midget or junior hockey.
“In order for a player to play U16 . . . they have to be released from major midget.”
Tryouts for the U16 team run May 24-26. For more information, visit yalesportacademy.com.