Minor hockey is back for now

·2 min read

MT. BRYDGES - The young skaters of the Mt. Brydges Cougars are back on the ice. The minor hockey association has made the decision to carry out the end of its 2020/21 season in whatever capacity they can, given the rules and restrictions.

“We were pleasantly surprised at the support we got in registration numbers this year,” says club President Brad Hipple. A normal year sees around 500 kids sign up; last fall, that number dropped only slightly to 470. They normally end mid-April, but this season will run until 16 May, if possible. “That will give these players the number of weeks they expected at sign-up,” explains Hipple.

Children have already missed out on so much regular activities in the past year. Covid numbers across the province are moving the wrong way, and a step backwards into Red-Control would likely mean the end of the season, especially if it comes near the end-date.

In the meantime, teams are icing up to 25 people, including coaches. They’re not back to playing against other teams quite yet, but say that is a possibility in the coming weeks.

“Some of our teams are considering grouping with another team, maybe Ilderton, because they have ice time in Komoka too,” says the association President. The Mount Brydges Minor Hockey Association splits their ice time between the Tri-Township Arena in Mt. Brydges - which had its ice pad removed once already this winter, but put it back in when lockdown ended - and the Komoka Arena. Overall, the Cougars association needs about 80-hours of ice time per week.

A move into Yellow-Protect likely won’t change much, says Hipple. Gameplay would look the same; however, it might mean parents and grandparents can stay and watch. Spectators currently aren’t allowed.

“It’s in constant flux,” says Hipple. In this hectic year, the biggest challenge for the minor hockey club has been navigating the ever-changing rules. Provincially, every authority seems to have their own twist, interpretation, and action. In Mount Brydges, the focus has been on ensuring safety and encouraging fun for the hockey superstars-to-be.

Whichever way this season goes, there’s always next year. Registration for the 2021/22 season will open in late June.

McKinley Leonard-Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner