A Maritime minor hockey association is offering free registration in an effort to stop declining enrollment.

As banquets are held to mark the end of another minor hockey season in Glace Bay, N.S., it seems fewer kids are hitting the ice.

President of the Glace Bay Minor Hockey Association James Edwards admits officials are seeing a significant drop in registration. 

“Our enrollment has always been in the 550 range, one year we went up to 600, but usually it's around 550… this year we dipped down around the 500 mark,” says Edwards.

Registration numbers were down by more than 1,000 players from last year across the province according to Hockey Nova Scotia's preliminary numbers.

Midget hockey coach Ken Tracey says families now have more choices to play other sports at a lower cost.

“Basketball is a big thing because in the winter months, all you need is a pair of running shoes, a t-shirt and shorts as opposed to what it cost a parent to outfit their child to play hockey,” Tracey says.

Edwards says the association will be offering a House League for female hockey players in September.

He also says the group's association is offering new players to sign up for free next season.

“A lot of our kids go through minor hockey not having to pay at all because of the success of our 50/50 draw… if we can get the kids and parents starting at an early age with tickets then they can hopefully go right through minor hockey career by playing hockey for free.”

Edwards says Canada’s game is still in good hands and has a way of bringing the country together.

Glace Bay is holding a road hockey tournament to mark one month since the devastating Humboldt Broncos crash May 6. All of the proceeds raised will be going towards the victims and their families.

“The kids on that bus, they were on the way to a hockey game and the best tribute we can give to them is to continue to playing hockey,” Edwards says.

Hockey Nova Scotia is currently working on a 5-year plan to help grow the game in the province and its looking at shorter seasons and combining age groups.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore