By Medicine Hat News on February 4, 2021.
COVID-19 has wiped another minor hockey season off the slate in Alberta.
Hockey Alberta announced its decision Tuesday evening to conclude AAA, AA and tiered league games for the remainder of the 2020-21 campaign. While it doesn’t necessarily spell an end to hockey of all forms this season, competitive league play is officially off the table for local teams in the Alberta Elite Hockey League, Alberta Female Hockey League, Rocky Mountain Female Hockey League, Central Alberta Hockey League and South Central Alberta Hockey League.
“While obviously this is not the news we wanted to hear, at this point in the season, it is not surprising that this decision has been made,” reads a release from Medicine Hat Minor Hockey. “Our hope has always been a return to seasonal game play, but that option is no longer available as facilities are losing ice in all areas of the province, which would make continuing unworkable.
“We want to assure our members that we are still looking at whatever ways are possible for us to get kids some development for as long as there is interest and ice available.”
Hockey Alberta stated in its announcement it will continue to work with minor hockey associations across the province to “explore all options that could comprise a spring development season.” Under the provincial government’s four-step relaunch strategy, the earliest that could happen would be March 1.
“Hockey Alberta will be working closely with those organizations that have access to facilities and/or have players interested in playing to ensure that those who are interested in playing can have that opportunity, when our sport is allowed back on the ice,” reads the Hockey Alberta release.
But it hasn’t done much to soften the blow. In a post relating to the announcement on the Medicine Hat News’ Facebook page, dozens of comments highlighted the disappointment felt by young players across the city.
“It’s heartbreaking in all aspects for kids of all ages. A year that has not been stable and normal for all these kids and not having their passion and love of sport to pour into is devastating,” Ashley Johnson commented. “I know my son misses it all, the team, the drive and push to get better. The physical aspect and just plain playing something he loves so much.”
Her comment didn’t stand alone, with most of the 100-plus signalling disappointment, as well as confusion and frustration relating to provincial guidelines and the government’s relaunch strategy.
“My 10-year-old is super upset,” commented Sharla Currie. “It’s disappointing that we can all pile into Walmart, etc., but no hockey. Kids can pile into schools, but no hockey.”
Hockey Alberta concluded its release by stating junior B, C, and female and senior leagues have set Monday as a deadline to determine whether continuing to plan league play is sustainable.