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Youth hockey keeps youth and parents busy during the long winter months
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Jan. 19, 2014

By Jennifer Kotila
Sports Writer

DASSEL-COKATO, MN – Youth in the Dassel-Cokato area have two options when it comes to learning and developing hockey skills – outdoor DC youth hockey and Litchfield/DC youth hockey.

Outdoor DC youth hockey is non-traveling, meeting twice each week at the Mooers Park outdoor rink to teach children in kindergarten through ninth grade hockey skills. The season ends with an indoor ice event.

LDC youth hockey is competitive, with children from the squirt (boys) and 10U (girls) level through the bantam (boys) and 14U (girls) level traveling to play games throughout District 5 and surrounding districts.

Practice for LDC youth hockey begins in October, with up to three or four practices a week and up to as many games each week, as well.

It is parents’ responsibility to get youth to and from practices at the Litchfield Civic Arena, as well as to and from games, keeping hockey families busy throughout the hockey season.

The regular season runs through the end of January and early February, followed by playoffs to become District 5 champions and continue on to a state tournament.

Youth at the squirt/10U level are typically in fourth and fifth grade, and children are typically at each level for two years, building hockey skills before moving up to the next level.

At the bantams/14U level, youth are in eighth and ninth grade. If skilled enough, some ninth-grade boys make it onto the LDC boys junior varsity and varsity teams.

Most boys and all girls continue in youth hockey through ninth grade to develop the skills needed to compete at the junior varsity and varsity level.

There are 17 boys and girls teams in LDC youth hockey, 11 of which are traveling teams.

The remainder of the teams are for the youngest players – kindergarten through third-graders. They participate in scrimmages or jamborees at the end of the season.

At the boys bantam, peewee, and squirt levels, tryouts take place at the beginning of the season to determine a players skill-level. Players are then placed on teams according to skill level, with “A” teams typically being more skilled than “B” teams.

The traveling boys teams, and number of players on each team this year are:

• Bantam A – 15

• Bantam B – 17

• Peewee A – 17

• Peewee B1 – 17

• Peewee B2 – 14

• Squirt A – 12

• Squirt B – 12

• Squirt C – 13

The younger boys teams are:

• Mite/green

• Mite/black

• Mighty mite/blue

• Mighty mite/ white

The girls traveling teams and number of players on each team are:

• 14U – 13

• 12U – 15

• 10U – 14

The younger girls teams are:

• 8U/pink

• 8U/red

These teams all share ice time at the Litchfield Civic Center with the varsity boys and girls hockey teams, which means practice for some of the older levels can get to be fairly late.

However, a solution to that problem is in the works with a new arena being built on the campus of the DC High School.

As soon as that arena is completed, there will be two sheets of ice for all the hockey teams in the area to share.

Let’s Build Hockey

For nearly 15 years, a committee has been working towards building the DC Regional Ice and Sports Center (DCRISC) after a large donation from Bill Hempel in 1999.

One of the unique characteristics of the project is that is being completed debt-free. The only cost for the arena after it is constructed will be maintenance costs.

Several years ago, the DCRISC had enough money to construct the 135-foot-by-250-foot exterior shell of the arena at a cost of $1 million.

Since then, boards have been purchased from Bemidji State University, and electrical, plumbing, and concrete work have been taking place within the shell as money becomes available.

A recent $200,000 Mighty Ducks Grant from the Minnesota Amatuer Sports Commission was received by the DCRISC to help with the installation of the refrigeration system.

Up to now installation of a refrigeration system has only been “a distant dream,” with a cost of $550,000. However, the grant may be just the boost needed to complete the arena within the next couple of hockey seasons.

At this time, with the grant and another generous donation, the DCRISC has $300,000 for the refrigeration system.

However, there is a timeline attached to the grant money, and an additional $250,000 in funds needs to be raised within one-and-one-half years in order to complete construction of the arena.

Links for more information about area youth hockey or the DCRISC can be found under Featured Links at www.dasselcokato.com.

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