It may be Canada's game, but boys in the northwest aren't signing up for minor hockey like they used to.
In Thunder Bay, the organization that oversees minor hockey in the region reports more than a 20 per cent drop in registration over the past 15 seasons.
The manager of Hockey Northwestern Ontario said the financial and time commitments of hockey — as well as safety concerns — are driving some parents away from the game.
“We've seen our registration decline ... in the 15-year total, we're looking at a loss of just under 1,000 players,” Trevor Hosanna said.
"Some associations that used to thrive with lots of teams and lots of players may be struggling now to put a team on an ice in a certain age group, or may not be able to put a team on the ice at all. So it's definitely impacting the minor hockey associations, especially in the small communities to the east and west of Thunder Bay."
Back at the rink, one parent of a young hockey player said keeping his son on the ice is worth the cost.
“You have to find the time, no matter what it takes — rely on grandparents, family members, friends, whatever it takes to get the kids to the rink or any other activities they're involved in,” Terry Hill said.
Hill also has a daughter, but said she has no interest in the game. Her reluctance to play is a bit of an anomaly, as registration in girls' hockey is up by more than 14 per cent across Ontario since 2005.