SUNDRE — The president of the local minor hockey organization expressed confidence that the season is going to shape up in one form or another.
“I’m very optimistic we’ll go forward,” said Wade Church, president of Sundre Minor Hockey Association.
“It will be ran totally different, but there’ll be some sort of hockey this year — without the event of a COVID outbreak or spike,” Church added.
Registrations have been underway for the past couple of months, with the association anticipating youths and adolescents will get an opportunity to play, he said.
“Numbers are looking good for registration in most levels,” said Church, adding, “I guess we could use some more bantam, novice and peewee registrations.”
Hockey Alberta released a return to hockey plan earlier in June outlining recommendations that largely relate “back to following all your local health authorities’ regulations.”
So the association has been in contact with the municipality, and hopes in a best-case scenario to get practices started as soon as possible, perhaps even September, he said.
However, as a result of the looming uncertainty resulting from the fluid situation with the pandemic, he added, “We haven’t really set any plans in place because in the next six weeks there could be so many changes with COVID, and our minister of health could have different rules in place by then.”
Asked what the hockey season might resemble this year in terms of protocols, Church said, “There are lots of different scenarios — from no spectators to minimal spectators, to staggering out the games so there’s quite a bit of time in between each one to accommodate the extra cleaning procedures.”
The hockey season has already started in some places, with early practices and clinics underway, he said.
“Every arena has a different way of doing it,” he said.
Those approaches range from no parents being allowed in the arena, all the way to up operating as close to normal as possible, he added.
“We’ll follow along with what Hockey Alberta and Alberta Health say,” he said.
“If anybody is really concerned, they can go to Hockey Alberta’s website and check out their return to play program.”
The local hockey season is generally underway by about mid-September, when the association rents ice at the arena in Caroline since the surface isn’t yet ready in Sundre by that time, he said.
“I’m not sure when we’re going to get to Sundre, because the arena’s under mass construction right now,” he said, adding the municipality is, “doing a bunch of work to the building itself — the roof and a new ice plant.”
During a special council meeting conducted on Tuesday, July 28, chief administrative officer Linda Nelson said the municipality is in the process of completing a building envelope study to determine the entire structure’s integrity.
“The ice plant will be replaced this year and can be moved to an alternate location if required in the future,” Nelson added.
But the working assumption for the time being is that there will be a hockey season, Church said, encouraging anyone who hasn’t already done so to consider registering any kids who are keen to play.
In the event of a worst-case scenario that results in the plug being pulled on the season, people would be fully refunded for the cost of registration, he said.
And if there are not enough players to form a team at each level, the association will strive to place kids who have registered on teams in other communities, he said.
“We’re trying to encourage people to register in the hope that we have a season, just so we can plan, numbers-wise.”