For the first time ever, Mission Secondary School students are lacing up the skates and rocking the Roadrunners colours in the British Columbia High School Hockey League (BCHSHL).
The team is a part of the brand new MSS Hockey Academy, and continued a strong inaugural season with a 6-1 win over Mouat in the semi-finals of the BCHSHL playoffs.
“The team at MSS has been great,” said head coach and teacher John Kapty. “The first year in BCHSHL has gone really great and it’s great to have this type of success in the first year, it really helps get the program off the ground.”
Kapty explained that the academy launched in the fall, with a handful of Grade 10, 11 and 12 students making the trip to the Mission Leisure Centre during school time as a physical education credit. Players worked on skills throughout the class.
“It’s different from the big elite academies; we’re low cost,” he said. “We had a combination of rep and house kids but it’s basically a PE credit and it’s something where we don’t have to change the timetables at all.”
The Roadrunners hockey team was put together after spring break and has been competing in the BCHSHL for the first time this year. Kapty said the school held open tryouts and the response to the team has been positive from the student body. The BCHSHL promotes a sportsmanlike version of hockey, and Kapty said his students seem to really enjoy the cleaner game and less pressure.
“We want to get away from the stigma of hockey being a violent sport and really try to focus on sportsmanship, fair play and clean and fast hockey,” he said, noting that body contact is not allowed in the league.
“I think the kids find it more fun. Some of the guys like hitting and complained a bit early on but it’s not as serious as rep hockey and more about just having fun.”
Kapty said he thinks the high school hockey system will continue to grow, noting that several teams in Abbotsford also participate in the BCHSHL. He spent many years coaching football, and said he can see hockey following a similar path.
Kapty said the program is returning next year and for the foreseeable future, but said he would like to see it expand to newcomers to the sport.
The Roadrunners take on Port Coquitlam’s Archbishop Carney Regional Secondary School next Wednesday in Burnaby. If successful, they will qualify for the BCHSHL Tier 2 final the following week.