---Minor hockey restart squashed by Covid-19
Not long after the provincial government granted orange zone region residents the green light to participate in team sports starting on March 26, it declared that the Outaouais was returning to the red zone. During a press conference on March 31, Quebec Premier François Legault said that indoor and outdoor team sports activities would be shut-down for at least the next 10 days.
Before the announcement, minor hockey in Aylmer was accessible for kids this spring even if it was considerably limited. According to the Aylmer Minor Hockey Association’s (AHMA) President Dan Dupuis, local on-ice activities had restarted on March 27 with kids playing in practice sessions with maximal groups of eight participants supervised by a certified coach. “It’s eight plus one,” Dupuis said. “It can be seven players, one goalie. It can be eight players, no goalie and the one is the certified coach.”
Before the initial announcement, kids were only allowed to go on the ice at the Frank-Robinson or Isabelle-et-Paul Duschesnay arenas during the winter when accompanied with a certified minor hockey coach. While winter hockey season was already essentially over according to normal standards, Dupuis said it was important to allow more kids an opportunity to get on the ice in some capacity after having been forced away from organized sports for so long. But, unfortunately, none of them will be able to participate due to Covid-19.
With that, the AHMA has set its sights on next fall, hoping for hockey to return in full force. Originally scheduled to extend until the end of April, with no competitive games or tournaments, around 34 groups of kids, from Novice to Midget, were registered to play – with a waiting list of around 50 other kids wanting to participate. “It touches around a little under 400 players,” Dupuis said, stating that around 1,000 kids in Aylmer play organized hockey in normal years. “With just eight and one, it’s not everyone who will have the chance to get on the ice.”
Receiving an overwhelming level of demand for kids wanting to get back to playing hockey, Dupuis said the kids would have only been able to play with their respective groups once or maybe twice for a 50-minute session this spring due to a limited number of available hours of ice-time. “We’re waiting for directions and we’re following them,” Dupuis said. “It would’ve been fun to be able to do games. But until we get the go-ahead, we can’t.”
Uncertain as to when local minor hockey will return to normal, Dupuis said the AHMA is under Hockey Québec’s mercy – which follows the provincial government’s ruling – adding that it’s better to be safe than sorry. “In Ottawa they tried,” Dupuis said. “They restarted playing games, and they almost immediately fell back into the red zone and now they’ve closed everything.” The AHMA is preparing to host its annual general meeting in April or May. Dupuis invites people to participate in droves.
For parents wanting a refund from last season’s registration, Dupuis said those who paid $295 should get a return of around $240-250 in credit due to insurance and administrative fees. Dupuis said some parents decided not to register their kids for hockey due to Covid-19, but not a significant amount. “There weren’t that many,” Dupuis said.