When Dr. Bonnie Henry announced public health orders restricting sports would continue for another month on Thursday, Jan. 7, Quesnel’s hockey community groaned.
The communications director for the Quesnel and Distinct Minor Hockey Association (QDMHA), Carlos Gonzalez said while it the news was disappointing, it wasn’t a surprise.
“You could see the writing on the wall,” he said. “We’re just coming off the Christmas break, the numbers are not at the point you could clearly see a definite trend going down. Even though it was not a big surprise, I had hopes.”
Players won’t be the only ones feeling the sting of a season slowly slipping away.
“It’s definitely disappointing, from the parent point of view,” he said. “For the kids, although they’re still on the ice, having some kind of exercise, they’re certainly missing playing games.
Gonzalez said parents are questioning why kids can’t play games, while still able to practise and go to school, especially in Quesnel.
While guardians were not allowed to be inside arenas to watch games in person, the QDMHA was livestreaming the games over the internet, allowing every family member to tune in.
“We understand the province sets the rules for everyone,” Gonzalez said. “Whether you’re in a fifty person community or a five million person city like Vancouver… we’ll have to wait and see on Feb. 5.”
That date marks the scheduled end of the current public health orders.
“At that point we’ll have six weeks left in the season,” Gonzalez said. “We’ll try to make the best of those six weeks if indeed we are allowed to go back to games. The rep teams will have to scramble a bit to get games in if they are allowed to travel.”
The pandemic has forced hockey activities to focus nearly entirely on skill development. While it can be a struggle to keep players motivated, the alternative would be cancelling or postponing all hockey activities, as 100 Mile House minor hockey did last week.
“If [Feb. 5 news] is a negative, we’re pretty much going to the end of the season, doing just drills and skills,” Gonzalez said. “[100 Mile House] closed for a couple weeks because of outbreaks nearby. We’re not there yet, and I’m knocking on wood we don’t get there.”
Gonzalez is happy some hockey activities can go on in Quesnel, unlike in 100 Mile House and March of 2020, when everything was cancelled.
“The schools are open, [players] can still see their friends,” he said. “This is working and we are fully supporting any kind of direction we get from the provincial health authority. We have our fingers crossed for the next update.”
Henry will announce her decision on if restrictions will continue in the days before Feb. 5.
“We keep reminding ourselves at least the kids are doing something, and they’re just not being couch potatoes at home,” Gonzalez said.
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