Hockey Canada introduced a number of youths to the game of floorball in Naujaat earlier this month.

Hockey Canada manager of school programs Pier-Alexandre Poulin works on the face-off rules of floorball with Grade 7 students Quentin Tuktudjuk and Vincent Angotingoar, right, at Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat on Jan. 10. photo courtesy of Julia MacPherson

The manager of school programs for Hockey Canada, Pier-Alexandre Poulin, and instructor Jeff Shepherd spent Jan. 10 and 11 teaching students at Tusarvik Elementary School and Tuugaalik High School the basic rules and finer points of the game.

They also spent some evening time running on-ice drills for players in Naujaat’s minor hockey program.

Tuugaalik vice-principal Julia MacPherson said although the visit was brief, it met with great success among the students.

She said floorball could catch on quickly in Naujaat because of its low cost and how much fun it is to play.

“I quickly organized a schedule with physical education teacher Gary Minauda, and they worked with students in grades four and up,” said MacPherson.

“They did one-hour sessions with each grade going over various passing and shooting techniques before holding a scrimmage at the end of each one.

“I was also able to take them on a quick tour around the community, and they were impressed with the beauty of Naujaat and the sea ice.

“They even saw a dogsled team go by before we drove back to the high school for their final session.”

The two Hockey Canada instructors interacted with about 140 students during the sessions.

Poulin said student reaction to the game was very good, and many of the youths became quite engaged with the sport.

He said most importantly, everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.

“The rules of floorball are a bit different to those of floor hockey,” said Poulin.

“As an organization, Hockey Canada sees floorball as the best way to introduce kids to hockey in a gymnasium setting.

“The biggest difference between floor hockey and floorball is that there is absolutely no stick contact allowed in floorball, which makes the game safer for kids to play.

“The equipment is also a lot lighter, the sticks are shorter, and it’s played with a Wiffle ball, which makes it a lot easier for any kid who has never had the chance to stick handle with a regular hockey stick previous to their introduction to floorball.”

Poulin said the use of a Wiffle ball also offers benefits to kids who are used to playing hockey on a regular basis.

He said the light ball helps them develop their hand speed, eye/hand co-ordination and overall puck-handling abilities.

“The high school already had the necessary equipment, but without really understanding the differences between the two games, so it was a real eye-opener in that regard for the phys-ed teacher.

“Naujaat’s elementary school will receive a game kit as a legacy of our visit and, hopefully, they’ll use it on a regular basis so the game will grow among the younger kids in the community.

“We really hope to expose more kids to hockey by using floorball in schools and, hopefully, the next step will be some of them learning how to skate a little bit.

“If you have the skills of floorball and you learn how to skate, you might want to try ice hockey and that’s our long-term plan with floorball.”

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