Belleville Jr. Bulls back on the ice

This story was published in the Fall 2022 edition of Total Sports Quinte magazine

Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte

While the start of another season certainly brings a heightened level of excitement, Belleville Jr. Bulls president Jill Bain says minor hockey really is enjoyable all the time.

Regular season, tournaments and playoffs, it’s all great, she noted, but agrees this is a great time of year for everyone associated with Belleville Minor Hockey.

“The start of the house league season and the representative tryout process always comes with a different level of excitement. The last two seasons have been difficult working around the COVID pandemic,” Bain remarked.

“We are very proud of the programming we were able to offer during the last two seasons. We have to mention our players and their families, coaches, officials, staff and volunteers and thank them for their hard work, patience and understanding. A lot of the restrictions and programming that we were able to offer were beyond our control.

Our relationship with the City of Belleville was key. Both parties worked hard to ensure there was minor hockey at some level available to all who wanted to play. We can’t wait to play an uninterrupted season.”

Belleville Minor Hockey is offering ‘AA’ and ‘A’ rep hockey this season to players from U10 to U18, which compete in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association’s Lakeshore League against opponents from Ajax/ Pickering, Clarington, Kingston, North Durham, Northumberland, Oshawa, Peterborough, Quinte West and Whitby during league play.

In recent seasons, the Jr. Bulls have had multiple OMHA finalists and in 2019-20 had an OMHA championship-winning team. Last season, which had a new playoff format introduced, four Belleville teams qualified for the OMHA tournament. volunteers in all minor sports. They bring great attitudes towards fun, development and competitive play for all skill levels. Coaching Minor hockey at all levels is very rewarding. House league coaches have to deal with all kinds of experience and skill levels. We appreciate the coaches who step up at this level, knowing that not only will they be developing players by preparing some to move on to the next level and by teaching others the game of hockey for the first time.”

Some house league players have a high skill level, but are unable or don’t want to play rep hockey. For those players, select hockey is available for players and coaches who are interested. Select hockey enables associations to form a competitive team from house league players that play in three extra games per month and up to three tournaments each season.

Belleville Minor Hockey utilizes every ice pad at the Quinte Sports & Wellness Centre for games and practices as well as ice at World Elite Development Centre and, when needed, in other communities like Quinte West, Deseronto and Tweed.

“This season we will introduce some new, exciting development programs,” Bain said. “This is a long-term vision for the association, but we are anticipating results for both our rep and house league clubs and individual players at all levels this season. We are excited to see our players and coaches thrive moving forward, under what our Board of Directors feel is a quality development plan.”

Rep team tryouts have concluded for the Jr. Bulls teams.

For house league play, registration always remains open until the age divisions fill up. This season it’s hoped that the U18 house league division can be reintroduced. It’s no surprise to see rinks buzzing for the Jr. Bulls, especially when the organization hosts tournaments.

This season, Belleville Minor Hockey is excited to be partnered with Relm Sports to host two tournaments. The first was the U14-U18 ‘AA’ Pre-Season Tilt from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 followed by the U10-U13 ‘AA’ and ‘A’ Mid-Season Tilt from Nov. 4 to 6.

“Tournaments are so important to all associations,” Bain said. “It is very exciting to be able to host these events, to showcase our clubs, our facility and our city. Tournaments fill the building, they create a great minor hockey experience for players, coaches, officials and their families.”

Bain said Belleville Minor Hockey has gone through some muchneeded changes in recent years, though noted the pandemic slowed the process and more work needs to be done.

“We believe in the vision of our staff and board of directors. We want to help grow our sport at all levels,” she said. “One of our goals is to become the first choice for players, coaches and officials of all skill levels. A strong House League is the start and will improve our rep programming at the same time. We also are partnered with the NHL/ NHLPA to offer First Shift program for those new to hockey of 6 to 10 years of age but need a little more time to adjust and learn the game and basic skills. We are excited for all of our programming.”