Squamish's regional hockey team is back after a lengthy hiatus resulting from the pandemic.
The Sea to Sky Bears' U15 A1 players, which is composed of players from Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton, secured gold at a Quesnel Minor Hockey tournament on Oct. 17.
It's a solid way to get back into action after a lengthy break.
After spending much of the pandemic in training mode only, the three Bears' teams — U18, U15 A1, U15 A2, and their affiliates, totalling about 60 boys and girls — are expected to be playing a competitive season."From a parent's perspective, it is amazing to be back in the rink to watch the kids not only practice, but compete again," said Wendy Kearns Moore, who manages the Bears' U18 team.
"It's been a long wait for them to be able to play games again and to do it with fans in the building is awesome."However, getting back into the hockey groove still requires the team to be careful with respect to the new realities of competing with COVID-19.
Kearns Moore said that each team has its own set of policies and procedures.This includes rules around where to enter and exit, mask-wearing, and a maximum capacity of spectators, among other things.
The team's home rinks are Brennan Park and Meadow Park.She said that masks are required when entering and exiting the buildings, but players can remove them once they're on the bench and when they're on the ice.
Spectators who've been dying to get their fix of local hockey will be pleased to know that audience members are once again allowed to watch.However, there are protocols in place, and people are encouraged to visit the Squamish Minor Hockey and Whistler Minor Hockey websites to review each rink's protocols to know what to expect.
Kearns Moore said that if COVID-19 numbers go up again, the team will follow directions from the provincial health officer and seek guidance from ViaSport.She added that tryouts for the team are either in the spring or late August to early September.
Kearns Moore also encouraged the community to come show support for the players."As a community, com[e] out to cheer on the teams! Typically you can find all teams in action either in Squamish or Whistler each weekend. Game info is generally posted on our Facebook pages — Sea to Sky Bears — Midget A1 Zone and BC Zone S2S Bears," she wrote in an email to The Squamish Chief.
"We are always looking for companies or individual sponsorships to help fund our teams going to tournaments, getting extra training, etc."