North Shore Winter Club to host high school hockey academy
Move means BC Hockey’s top zone program for Burnaby North, North Coast and Sea to Sky must find a new home
A major roster reshuffle is set to take place next season in the elite West Coast junior hockey world, with a top-tier academy heading to the North Shore Winter Club, replacing another select program that attracts players from the north coast, north of Burnaby. , and up to Sea to Sky Country.
The NSWC Board of Directors recently informed members that the club has signed a long-term agreement with the Spartan Sport Group to host the elite academy program currently known as the West Van Warriors. The Warriors Academy features teams in several divisions of the Canadian School Sports Hockey League, playing against elite school teams from across Western Canada. Academy teams will train and play at the Winter Club starting next season, and will be moving from their current training home at Hollyburn Country Club. Spartan Sport Group will retain ownership of the academy, but will likely adopt a new branding to reflect its partnership with the North Shore Winter Club.
“We believe this is an opportunity that will improve our offerings at all levels, for all players,” said James Cronk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NSWC. âThe Winter Club has always been a strong hockey community and a strong hockey club. And we believe that having our Cookie Monsters kids at higher level hockey, academy level, will be a benefit to the club in the long run. “
The movement, however, is not without its casualties. Upon arrival at the academy, the Winter Club made the corresponding decision to end their hosting agreement with the Vancouver North West Hawks, a BC Hockey affiliate zone program that brings together U18 boys’ teams. , U17 and U15 AAA in the British Columbia Elite Hockey League. . The Hawks’ teams, formerly known as the Vancouver North West Giants, are made up of players from eight minor hockey associations across Burnaby North, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler and the Sunshine Coast. The Hawks are now looking for a new home rink for next season after spending the past four years training and playing away from the winter club.
âObviously we’re disappointed with the decision they made and I personally didn’t see it coming,â said Chris Shaw, general manager of the North West Hawks program. âIn the end, it was a business decision that the club moved forward with, and we’re going to have to adjust accordingly.â¦ There is no hard feelings on our side, and we understand. North Shore Winter Club was a fantastic house for us and we had a great relationship with them.
The Hawks hope to stay on the North Shore as it is located in the center of the zone and a number of players come from the four North Shore associations – North Van and West Van minor, Hollyburn and NSWC – but it is difficult to find ice on the North Shore, especially since the Harry Jerome arena will be disconnected at the end of 2021 when the old recreation center is demolished and a new one built.
âWe would like to keep him on the North Shore,â said Shaw, adding that no matter where they play next year, he always expects the program to perform at a high level. On the zonal alumni roster are a number of current NHL players, including Sam Reinhart, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Colton Sissons.
âIt’s a tough pill to swallow right now, but I think when it comes to our Northwest Zone hockey program, I would like to consider it one of the best in Western Canada in this moment, âShaw said.
As for the academy of the West Van Warriors, this decision should bring stability after a few tumultuous years. The Warriors were originally associated with Sentinel Secondary as an educational partner, but the West Vancouver School District ended that relationship in early 2020. The academy then entered into a tentative agreement with the School District of North Vancouver to move to Seycove Secondary, but opposition from the school community associated with complications from the COVID-19 pandemic has put these plans in place.
The program’s educational partnership is now with North Shore Academy, a North Vancouver-based private school that offers a hybrid of classroom and online instruction, while their new agreement with the Winter Club will give them a home for their training. hockey. and games.
The Warriors also have a few exceptional alumni, including Connor Bedard of North Vancouver, the very first player to achieve exceptional status for an early entry into the Western Hockey League.
The academy currently features one U18 team, one U16 team and two U15 teams. Part of the deal with the Winter Club is that there will be a push to add academy lineup for the players, Cronk said.
“We believe this is an opportunity that will improve our offerings at all levels, for all players,” he said. âOne of the things that drew us to the academy is their commitment to developing a women’s program. And this is something that has been very important to us.
Another factor at play at the elite level for youth hockey is cost. The fees are high overall, but the school academy program has a higher price tag to players than BC Hockey’s zone program. Zone program costs start at around $ 13,000 per player per season, but academy costs could double.
âThere is no doubt that families are willing to pay for their children to achieve the highest level of development possible,â said Cronk, adding that the NSWC board was pleased with the change made.
“It was certainly a difficult decision to make,” he said. âBut ultimately the ability for the Winter Club to be co-branded with an academy is a benefit to our hockey program and will attract members who are looking for the development of their children at all levels.â
Spartan Sport Group did not immediately respond to requests for comment.