If you are a high school kid in Shakopee that wants to continue to play hockey but don't want to play at the high school level, there is another option for you.
The Shakopee Hockey Association has started a Junior Gold program this season for the high school players that want to continue to play but isn't playing at the high school level for whatever reason.
Junior Gold hockey provides another opportunity for high school age players to continue playing while developing their skills. Junior Gold hockey is for kids that aren't playing for their high school team from the grades 10 to 12.
"We talked about it last year but couldn't get momentum going quick enough to get a team," Shakopee Hockey Association president Rob Gunnare said. "We have a huge high school with huge numbers and we wanted to create an opportunity to give kids a chance to keep playing a sport they love."
Shakopee kids are taking advantage of that opportunity to keep playing as a total of 20 players (19 skaters and 1 goalie) have joined the Shakopee Junior Gold team this winter.
"We are so excited to offer this opportunity," Gunnare said. "This is what it is all about having kids keep playing the game they started playing when they were around 5-6 years old."
Jim Grabianowski will be the team's first head coach after spending years in the association coaching on both the boys and girls sides.
"I'm around and they wanted a coach and my son (played for Prior Lake Junior Gold) had such a good time last year that I wanted the boys to have a similar experience to that," Grabianowski said about coaching the team. "They approached me and asked if I wanted to do it and I said sure why not I have nothing else to do."
Shakopee had to send players to Junior Gold teams in Prior Lake and Lakeville last year, so having the Shakopee kids together on a team and practicing mostly at the Shakopee Ice Arena makes for even a better experience, he said.
Grabianowski said he hopes to provide a fun and enjoyable experience for the players.
"My son was a senior last year and ended up playing at Prior Lake and had such a great experience," Grabianowski said. "We want a place for the kids to keep playing. High school hockey isn't for everybody, but we don't want them just to be done. So its really an opportunity for the kids to keep playing through there senior season. The No. 1 goal is to have fun. I can speak from my experience having my son be excited to go to the rink and come back from practice laughing and joke about things was great to see."
The Shakopee Junior Gold team is currently practicing and will start the season sometime in December with 24 league games against other metro area Junior Gold Teams in the Junior Gold High School League. The league ends in March with league playoffs and a state tournament. Some of the top teams have a chance to go on and play in a national tournament.
For Shakopee, they will play at the Junior Gold B level this season and will host a tournament this year from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.
"It took the whole board, a coach to step up but everything is going smoothly and right on track," Gunnare said.