Brandon hasn’t iced a team in the Winnipeg AAA Midget City Hockey League since 2009-10. A plan to revive the squad with help from surrounding regions has failed due to a lack of players. Brandon’s Bantam A squad also failed to attract enough players this fall.
Despite getting permission to create a midget hockey team with players from the Brandon, Southwest and Yellowhead regions to play in the Winnipeg AAA Hockey League this winter, Hockey Brandon will be unable to ice a team.
The organization announced on its website that for the fourth straight season it won’t have a City Midget team and a lot of it has to do with the success of the local high school hockey programs. In previous years, kids who didn’t make the Midget AAA squad would try out for the City Midget team and if they didn’t make that then they would play high school, but that has changed with many of them planning to play high school if they don’t make the Midget AAA squad.
Hockey Brandon did everything it could to drum up interest for the City Midget team — including sending notes out in the summer to anyone who would be interested as well as hiring Jay Palmer as a head coach — but in the end it just couldn’t get enough players to commit.
"We had 14 skaters and seven or eight goalies (sign up for the team), but of those skaters the appointed coach had been in contact with them and they were now leaning toward playing high school hockey anyway," Hockey Brandon first vice-president Don Wilson said. "Vincent Massey had its tryout on Monday and there were eight or nine kids on that list at the Massey tryout who let it be known that’s where they wanted to play."
There was hope to get about nine Brandon players and about three more from each of the Southwest and Yellowhead regions to round out the team. Wilson understands why some out-of-town players may not want to join the City Midget team based on the financial and travel commitments needed.
However, waiting until Monday to make their decision to pull out from the league may have cost Brandon from rejoining in the next couple years.
"In the past, I’ve attended the Winnipeg AAA Council meetings in June, in which we let our intentions be known for the following year," Wilson said. "In the past, we asked for a City Midget team and we generally withdrew that request.
"This year is a little different in that we hung on to hope a little longer and in the end it may have hurt us because they’re not too pleased with the late withdrawal. It has caused a lot of issues for them with their (ice) allocator and scheduler and redrafting a schedule. I feel for them, but we couldn’t put a product out that would be competitive and it wouldn’t be fair to people involved with the program."
Meanwhile, there won’t be a Brandon Bantam A team competing in the Parkissimo League. This is the second year Brandon won’t be represented at the level due to a shortage of players.
Hockey Brandon, however, will hold a tryout and double-roster a squad that will still compete in tournaments this winter.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 27, 2013