Season is ending early for many rinks in the area

He shoots … he scores!

Now that’s something we haven’t heard much of in the 2020-21 hockey season in this area. Since the pandemic, restrictions became even more severe just after the hockey season began. Barely a few games were played before all games were put on hold for an undetermined time.

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And the date kept getting pushed back further. All rinks in the area suffered due to the loss of income.

Syd Chicoine, president of Redvers Minor Hockey, explains that their rink has artificial ice and they decided that minor hockey was going to pay extra to keep the rink open for February and shutting down the plant on March 1.

They would leave the ice until it was gone. There’s still plans on trying to keep the rink open for March.

“Right now there is nothing for kids to do,” says Chicoine. “All of the teams have still been able to hold practices. Some of the players and coaches as well are thinking ‘Why practise if we aren’t able to go to any games?’”

“It’s not like you meet up at the rink and talk anymore,” says Chicoine.

“I haven’t contacted the young teams but everybody has made something work. The U13 team has 12 skaters so a few of the players have to sit out due to COVID-19 restrictions there can only be eight on the ice at one time. The U15 team has 16 players so they are divided into two groups to practise on separate days. Many of the groups rotate which players sit out on each practice.”

“This situation has impacted our rink and community and players immensely,” says Chicoine. “I think that the ones that are in their 17-year-olds (season) this year, as far as hockey players go, I don’t know if they’ll continue with hockey when the end of their last season gets ripped away from them and it’s a fairly large step from midget to senior around here due to the competitiveness of the Big Six. When you don’t play your last two years of midget, it’s going to make it really hard to make a step up like that.”

For those players who don’t wish to play competitively, they have the option to switch over to rec. hockey in Redvers.

Denise Allum, president of Oxbow Minor Hockey, states:

“We’ve been practising the whole time and we continue to have practices at this point.

“SHA said possibly end of February or into March we’ll be able to have games but Oxbow will be shutting down the plant at the end of February and there’s no set date to close the rink. If the weather permits the kids will keep skating.

“Financially, the rink is struggling. Usually we give a fairly healthy donation from Oxbow Minor Hockey of upwards to $20,000 and that’s just not going to be able to be done. We usually use the door money and the 50-50 money to give back to the rink to pay for our time and so that’s how we give back our donation from the five minor hockey teams.

“I’m kinda lost, just like everyone else in the community, with no hockey games to attend. The kids are missing out on the friendship and the competition and the fun. Practice is good and they learn a lot of skills but they’re still missing out on competing. Keeping their skills up will ensure they’re not so far behind next season. “Because our teams are bigger we have to split our teams up to practise on two separate days. Because of the large numbers and due to restrictions, one or two players have to sit out of a practice. It’s hectic.

“The competition and the game is not there so some players are lacking the will to improve because there is no goal to look forward to.

“All these kids have been practising their heart out, but they aren’t going to get to have that game.

“Some of the players have lost interest at this point but I hope we’re not going to lose those kids for good.

“Hopefully all these rinks can afford to open their doors again next season.

“We haven’t been able to open our kitchen so there’s another loss of income. That’s the heart of most of the rinks…that’s what makes your money.

© Copyright Carlyle Observer

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