Ball hockey — it’s growing in popularity in Saskatchewan and across Western Canada.
And thanks to the vision of one man, there is now an elite league for ball hockey players to aspire to play in — the Saskatchewan Premier Ball Hockey League (SBHL).
“The idea, funny enough, happened on my 33rd birthday,” SBHL co-founder and commissioner Justin D’Entremont said.
“Which is about three-and-a-half years ago now. I just started thinking, how come a pro ball hockey league doesn’t exist. And I couldn’t come up with any real reasons why, and I am as passionate as can be so I said let’s go for it!”
There currently are four teams in the league. They even held a draft and 20-players were selected for each team.
To the nay-sayers out there, they say, “Why not ball hockey?”
“I watched tag on TV once,” D’Entremont said.
“Tag! But yet ball hockey doesn’t exist on any high level. And that just doesn’t compute to me. So I am never going to stop pushing. So to me, the sky’s the limit. And where I see this going is full-on North American ball hockey one way or another.”
That is the long-term goal. This year will be a shortened one as they got off to a late start due to COVID-19 restrictions in place.
Next year, they plan to play a full season at Merlis Belsher Place or the Legends Centre in Warman.
“I really want to advocate for ball hockey more and especially for First Nations people,” Snowbirds forward Antoine Nateway said. “In communities that have nothing. I really want to showcase for more people like me … who never had an opportunity. And I hope one day we can get it to the Olympic stage.”
“It brings me back to street hockey days,” Axemen forward Christian Magnus said. “Every time I am out on the floor, it’s like I am back on the street with the boys. I enjoy it. I transitioned fully from ice hockey. And yeah, you need good cardio. It’s a great way to stay in shape.”