WALKERTON – The Walkerton Hawks Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) team takes to the ice this week for the first time in a year, although the league’s season doesn’t start officially until the beginning of October.
Steve Barrett, Hawks manager, said on-ice practices have begun, a giant step in getting the new season off to a great start.
With many league arenas used over the past year for COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics, and others closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it became clear a season wouldn’t be possible.
That was last year; this is now. Schedules are being worked on and will be announced when they’re available.
Although a number of trades are still being negotiated, some have been completed and this year’s team is starting to take shape, Barrett said, describing a three-way trade with Hanover and Mount Forest as an example of what’s happening behind the scenes.
Eyes aren’t only on this year’s Hawks, but teams over the next couple years. There are still changes and a lot of fine-tuning to be done. Barrett noted the team the team is still young but “much improved. We’re taking steps to get to where we want to be,” he said.
The 2019-20 season, when the Hawks last played, wasn’t a good one for the Walkerton team. There were a lot of new players, including a number who had never played at the PJHL level before.
The rookies on that team have had a year of PJHL level hockey and time to mature; they’re no longer rookies.
A lot of veteran players are keen to get back with the team, Barrett said.
While the team is still in the building process, it promises to be an exciting season for Hawks fans despite the fact some COVID-19 protocols will still be in place.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times