It was supposed to be a glorious final ride in junior hockey for Chris Thon.
The Quesnel minor hockey alum and captain of KIJHL’s Kamloops Storm was just getting the season started when new public health orders meant the Storm’s season was halted.
Thon’s Storm had picked up two wins in two games before play was stopped, with Thon scoring a goal in one of the games.
The Storm is still allowed to practise, but with the updated health rules in B.C., anyone older than 18 had to stop playing.
Thon said it was tough to get excluded based on his age.
“It was hard to listen to,” he said. “You don’t ever want to hear that; as a young kid and as a young adult, you want to live out your hockey career as long as you can.”
Even more challenging than being separated from his teammates is being separated from his teammates as the team’s captain.
“It’s hard not being around the boys as much as I’d like to be,” Thon said. “I still keep in touch, make sure they’re doing alright, making sure all the guys are clicking, staying focused and staying ready for a game.”
Health rules have even restricted what training 18-year-olds and older athletes can do at home.
“You gotta be able to keep your game at a high level and stay doing what you’re doing, no matter what,” said Thon. “Even if you’re not on the ice, you can do stickhandling, workouts to stay in shape.”
The Storm moved to a bigger rink before the start of the 2020-21 season, but the expected boon in new fans hasn’t materialized, for obvious reasons.
“We moved rinks this year … in the hopes of getting more people in there, more fans, but with everything that’s happened, obviously, it hasn’t worked that way,” said Thon. “The ice surface is amazing, and the guys we’re playing with this year are a skillful group of kids.”
Thon still hopes to cap off his final year of junior eligibility with some hardware, even if the season is heavily shortened.
“I was hoping to finish it off with a bang,” he said. “We want to win. We have tons of skill, and all these kids are hungry to win. It should be interesting to see if we hop on the ice; it will be a good show.”
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