Squamish Minor Hockey is back, and officials are hoping that athletes will be able to resume regular games this season, which were shelved during the pandemic.Chris Green, the Squamish Minor Hockey Association president, said that once the pandemic swept through the province, players were primarily relegated to practices and drills due to COVID-19 restrictions.
However, unless the Delta variant throws a wrench in the process, he said he hopes that things start to return to normal."Moving forward for this year, teams are really looking forward to being able to play games once again and kind of going back to a bit more of a normal-looking hockey season," Green said.
The season for hockey has started, but the ice is not yet in at Brennan Park. It's supposed to be in by Sept. 27.However, some players have already done tryouts in the city, and some exhibition games have already taken place.
The U11 and U13 players have already started, and the rest of the players will start up once the ice is in.At the moment, the regulations regarding COVID-19 this season are still not set.
The association is waiting for word from viaSport, which has laid down many rules regarding sporting regulations during the pandemic era.There will be masking inside the facilities for anyone 12 years and older, except when on the ice, Green said.
"The main thing that a donation like that does for us is allow us to keep our registration as low as possible, and so that those registration fees are not a barrier to families getting into hockey or staying in hockey," he said.For U6 players, the cost is about $350 to register, while U18 players have to pay $875 a year for registration. That doesn't include the cost of equipment.
A once or twice a year gear swap helps some families who need to save money on equipment.
Programs like Jumpstart can help further alleviate the registration fees for families in a tight financial situation. There are also payment plans and consideration of reducing fees for families having a tough time.
There's also another program called First Shift, which, in conjunction with Bauer and the NHL, provides first-time players with a full set of gear for a substantially reduced price.
Then, Squamish Minor Hockey provides the ice time and coaches, and allows them to try hockey for the first time as part of a 10-week program.
If those players take a liking to the game, they can stay around and be included in the remainder of the regular season, around January.The registration fee from there is prorated for the rest of the season.
The association is still taking registrations at www.squamishminorhockey.ca, though some age groups have waitlists.