Hockey

The St. Joseph Griffins Hockey Association team for youth 10 years old and younger during the 2018-2019 season.

The St. Joseph Griffins Hockey Association team for youth 10 years old and younger during the 2018-2019 season.

The St. Joseph Griffins Hockey Association is open to youth from rural communities and school districts. Rusty Burnam, association scheduler, said the organized sport is open to all age ranges from across the region. “The reason this is such a unique sport is that it’s not just one school from one school district participating,” Burnam said. “The structure of the association allows high school age players to make up

The St. Joseph Griffins Hockey Association is open to youth from rural communities and school districts.

Rusty Burnam, association scheduler, said the organized sport is open to all age ranges from across the region.

“The reason this is such a unique sport is that it’s not just one school from one school district participating,” Burnam said. “The structure of the association allows high school age players to make up the high school team no matter where they live. High school age players from Cameron, Union Star or Maysville are on the same team. This is true for all of the age divisions.”

He said the coached hockey association is a five-month season with structured playing. The age categories include those 8 and under through the high school division.

“We have multiple rural families that come in to play and join our teams,” Burnam said. “It’s a rather lengthy season and we split our games roughly half at Bode Ice Arena in St. Joseph and the other half at rinks in Kansas City. That is true for any age division.”

Burnam said hockey is one of the fastest growing youth sports in the Midwest.

In addition, the Bode Ice Arena in St. Joseph is in the process of their largest upgrade to the facility since its inception in 1976.

“The renovations will be specific to bettering the ice rink,” Burnam said. “The funds will go into the air handling system and making the air quality better and more cohesive for ice. A new ceiling is also being put into place that is more conducive to ice rinks so there isn’t condensation build-up. It makes a good quality ice rink.”

The Bode Ice Arena is currently closed and will re-open on July 15. While the hockey season doesn’t begin until the first part of September, there will be hockey development classes offered upon opening at the arena.

In addition, there will be dates in November and February where the ice arena will be open to youth to try hockey free of charge as a national program under USA Hockey.

Burnam said the hockey team helps youth develop a sense of comradery.

“The kids have created incredible bonds,” Burnam said. “It’s like a big family once you get involved. They are very welcoming and hospitable at the Bode Ice Arena. It’s great to watch the kids learn and to see the confidence being built within them. It’s not just a sport that they’re doing with sticks and pucks. They’re also skating on ice the whole time so there are a lot of moving parts.”

For more information on the association, contact Burnam by email at rustyburnam@hotmail.com.