CYO Minor Hockey is celebrating 90 years!, News (St Catharines CYO Minor Hockey)


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Sep 09, 2023 | Nicole Chubaty | 3076 views
CYO Minor Hockey is celebrating 90 years!
This coming 2023-2024 season, St. Catharines CYO Minor Hockey will be celebrating its 90th anniversary of providing hockey programming and development across St. Catharines and Niagara.

For Immediate Release

St. Catharines, Ontario (September 9, 2023) – This coming 2023-2024 season, St. Catharines CYO Minor Hockey will be celebrating its 90th anniversary of providing hockey programming and development across St. Catharines and Niagara.

What started as an outdoor Catholic boys league played on Martindale Pond has grown into a diverse and inclusive multi-generational, multi-tiered hockey league that supports players of all ages, genders, abilities, and backgrounds. As a Community Youth Organization, CYO operates many levels of development opportunities including half-ice and cross-ice programs for U6, U7, and U9, both recreational and travel divisions for U9 to U21, First Shift programming in partnership with the NHL/NHLPA, the Jr. IceDogs Special Needs program, a 22-team Alumni division, and other additional development clinics throughout the year.

Along with internal programming, CYO has also been the driving force behind many other hockey-related initiatives running throughout St. Catharines and Niagara.

In 1999, CYO launched its special needs program for players with physical or intellectual disabilities to provide and teach the game of hockey. The program has close ties with international special needs hockey organizations and helps players to achieve their goals. CYO’s program, the Jr. IceDogs, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this coming season, and runs in partnership with CYO and the OHL Niagara IceDogs.

In 2006, CYO helped form the St. Catharines Female Hockey Association (SCFHA) which was the foundation for today’s partnership program with Brock University, the Brock Jr. Badgers. Female youth players who play for the Brock Jr. Badgers are also eligible to play CYO Minor Hockey, a partnership that provides even more ice time and hockey development opportunities.

CYO has also been the local host for the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program in St. Catharines and Niagara since 2014. First Shift is designed to ensure a positive experience for new-to-hockey families of players, aged 6 to 10, by providing equipment and certified instructors to help teach the game in a way that is accessible, affordable, and safe. Doug Lowther, CAC Registered Licenced Coach and CYO Lifetime Member, has been a lead facilitator of the CYO’s First Shift program since it began. “Our focus is to teach both players and young coaches early skill development while instilling an inherent love for the sport,” Lowther says. “We stimulate a desire for continued participation by taking away the intimidation as it relates to equipment, and/or rules of the game. We remove potential safety concerns, and most importantly, provide an experience that is memorable.” Lowther has been recognized as a Hockey Canada Ambassador for his continued volunteering and leadership with the league. CYO operates two First Shift programs every year which has created positive experiences for over 330 new-to-hockey families.

CYO Minor Hockey counts its longstanding success to the families, players, supporters, volunteers, coaches, timekeepers, and administrators who have contributed their valuable time to the many programs throughout the years. CYO thanks the local organizations who continue to offer their support, with special recognition of the City of St. Catharines, the Niagara IceDogs, and the Merritton Ward, where CYO’s home rink is located.

A celebration weekend for CYO’s 90th anniversary will be held January 5-7, 2024, at Merritton Centennial Arena in St. Catharines. Details will be made available closer to the event.

CYO Minor Hockey is a not-for-profit corporation in Ontario sanctioned under the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario, the Ontario Hockey Federation, and Hockey Canada. CYO Minor Hockey operates out of Merritton Arena in St. Catharines, Ontario.


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