YORKTOWN — The Peninsula Youth Hockey Association (PYHA) is looking to inspire young players to join them on the ice as they prepare for 2022.
Known as “Peninsula Prowl” or “Prowl Hockey”, the non-profit is made up of volunteers whose goal is to provide opportunities for young hockey players to develop their fundamental skills and love for the sport.
Peninsula Prowl operates out of the Hampton Roads Iceplex in Yorktown. The volunteer coaches help provide local youth teams, ages 6-18, with recreational hockey programs for Newport News, Hampton, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Gloucester, Smithfield, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach.
“It’s an organization for kids to play hockey. It’s a house-level program which means we play one other team throughout the year that’s in Virginia Beach and we give opportunities for our kiddos to grow and learn the game and get better,” said Peninsula Prowl Youth Hockey Association Vice President of Membership, Dan Humphrey. “Throughout the year there are opportunities around that once these kids reach a certain level they can try and play for those other teams.”
To help get the word out about Peninsula Prowl, the youth hockey association hosts a “Try Hockey For Free Day.” They offer this free program once in November and another time in March. The most recent one took place on Nov. 6.
“We just finished our November one. It’s an opportunity for children to come in and if they don’t have a helmet, or skates, or gloves, we help them get that,” said Humphrey. “We’ve had 90 kids sign up for a try hockey two years ago, and then COVID hit. We had one right when COVID first started and we had like 15 or so kids. It definitely stunted our growth as a program I would say, but we’re bouncing back pretty quick. I would say the over 40 kids that came out all had a pretty awesome interest in the sport.”
This year the organization enrolled just under 90 kids in their hockey programs. An increase from 2020 after COVID-19 forced national and local sports programs to adapt and update how they operate.
The season typically runs from October through the end of February with practices starting in mid-September. To prepare for the regular season Prowl Hockey also offers new hockey players a program called Hockey U.
“Hockey U runs all year long. It’s an 8-week program that runs Tuesday and Thursday nights for eight weeks, and as soon as the current one ends, the first week of January, we’ll start another program the second week of January,” said Humphrey. “All year we’re running these Hockey U programs getting the kids ready. It’s great for new kids to learn and see if they like it first off and to see if they’re enjoying it, but also there is a group in the summertime that uses it to jump in and stay fresh before the season starts.”
Humphrey is involved in the organization as a coach and has a son in the program. He says that the kids form strong friendships that last a lifetime. There are players that are now in college who were involved in the program and they still keep in contact with Prowl Hockey and their teammates.
“This past Saturday we took our team up to Washington D.C. and they actually played between periods 1 and 2 of the Capitals game,” said Humphrey. “It was incredible, and we had the best time. “
Humphrey says that the biggest thing and pretty much the mission for the volunteers is to provide developmental programs for local hockey players so that kids can learn everything from the basics to advanced skills. They hope to continue this growth in 2022 and they ask if there are any parents, who have kids that are interested in learning about hockey, to reach out to them on their website.