When I first moved to this fine state, the first thing I did was find the closest hockey rink. I thought to myself that even though the competition would be weak, I could still get a good skate in from time to time.
What I found out was that the competition wasn’t just up to my smug expectations, but far exceeded them. North Carolina has a significant transplant population, and as a result, a lot of the hockey players here have roots from all over the country where skating and firing wristers is more commonplace.
Due to the criticism levied towards the Carolina Hurricanes in regards to poor attendance numbers the past few years, there is a perspective outside (and maybe even inside) this market that people here don’t care about or have a deep knowledge towards the game. Those same individuals might also believe that hockey simply can’t grow here. Without a large and loyal fanbase cheering on the pro team, the sport cannot stick and player development cannot thrive.
Well, they couldn’t be more wrong. Those same players who I encountered the first time I laced up my skates below the Mason-Dixon Line have children who have also grown to love the game their nomad parents do as well.
This past April, the Junior Hurricanes AA team won Tier II Nationals, a testament to the both the interest as well as the development of home-grown talent in North Carolina. There are 350 registered players in the Raleigh Youth Hockey Association this year, and we here at Canes Country want to shed some light on that local talent. I’m glad to say that we will be posting updates on scores and tournaments as well as players lighting the lamp at all levels around the State. Check in every few weeks as we will try to enlighten not only you but everyone else who wants to read about the great youth and amateur players here in the Triangle and beyond.
Are you a youth team coach? Beer league commish? High school coach? College player? Sled hockey participant? Travel team parent? We’d love to hear from you. Send us anything and everything - tournament results, player accolades, milestones, upcoming travel dates - and we’ll be happy to feature it. And all you have to do is send us an email - sbncanescountry at gmail dot com, or contact Liam directly at lcgoff11 at gmail dot com.
We can’t wait to tell the stories of the grassroots hockey growth that the Canes have fostered over their 20 years in North Carolina, so let’s drop the puck.