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Plan to reduce the number of Calgary minor hockey associations put on ice

The Calgary Saints prepare to play in 770 CHQR's Minor Hockey Road Show.
The Calgary Saints prepare to play in 770 CHQR's Minor Hockey Road Show. Michael King / Global News

Hockey Calgary’s (HC) proposal to change the boundaries of minor hockey associations was quashed in court on Friday.

For a year and a half, the organization’s board of directors was reviewing how to realign the boundaries that decide which teams kids in Calgary play for.

The decision was to reduce the number of minor hockey associations from 14 to 11, and would have affected the Northwest Warriors, Glenlake Hawks, and the Calgary Saints.

Those three associations filed a legal challenge in May, arguing that HC bylaws did not give the group the authority to dissolve or merge teams without club approval.

On Friday, a judge agreed with the challenge and said the decision to change boundaries would be put aside for the 2019-20 season.

READ MORE: Injunction granted after Hockey Calgary’s decision to redraw boundaries is challenged

In a letter to HC’s board of directors, executive director Kevin Kobelka said the ruling did not fall in line with what the majority of hockey associations wanted.

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“As an organization, we are greatly disappointed in this decision,” Kobelka said. “The fact that 82 per cent of our membership supported the March 18 boundary decision at our recent AGM gives the board confidence that we acted in the best interests of our members.

“We still believe that the proposed decision was the right direction for the future of Hockey Calgary, and the goal of providing an equal opportunity for all 14,500 players.”

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Kobelka added that the realignment would have given minor hockey players more opportunities to compete at the appropriate skill level.

Danielle Melnyk acted as the spokesperson for the potentially affected associations and said her group of parents was standing up for the communities they represent.

“Our members felt that they didn’t want to see these changes because they didn’t see the discernible reason to make these changes,” Melnyk said. “Our members that were faced with the possibility [of realignment], some wouldn’t have been able to continue playing minor hockey.”

Melnyk said increased travel time and splitting up teammates added additional challenges for children.

“Anytime you add a barrier, you risk losing a kid on the ice,” Melnyk said.

HC said they will be reaching out to associations where they believe boundary changes would be beneficial in order to gain approval.

Along with the Northwest Warriors, Glenlake Hawks and the Calgary Saints, four other clubs could agree to changes ahead to next season.

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They include a possible merger between Lake Bonavista and Midnapore, and boundary changes for Bow Valley and Blackfoot associations.

Kobelka said the legal dispute has delayed minor hockey registration by nearly a month.