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With booming numbers, Moose Jaw Minor Hockey Association hoping to see ice in city soon

Barkman Arena in Caronport only surface in area currently available as other communities gear up for new season
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The U18 AAA Warriors celebrate one of their many, many goals this past season.
The Moose Jaw Minor Hockey Association (MJMHA) is concerned they might find themselves falling behind the eight ball when it comes to the upcoming hockey season.

That is, of course, if there is one.

But due to the lack of ice in Moose Jaw at the moment — and the installation of skating surfaces in other communities like Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon as well as smaller towns like White City and Lumsden — the worry is that other places will be getting their ice time in before local players even have a chance to put on skates.

And it’s not just recreational and practice time that’s an issue: with the number of special instructional camps and events taking place at the Barkman Arena in Caronport, it’s something that minor hockey president Chris Flanagan hopes will lead to the city making a move in the near future.

“We have lots of guys in town like Trevor Weisgerber, Shane Smith, Cody Beach, Dustin Ernest, who are running hockey development camps as we speak, it’s just unfortunate that they have to travel outside of the city to run those camps,” Flanagan said. “Lots of kids are on the ice in Caronport these days. We really wish we could get an ice surface here in Moose Jaw and we hope the city looks at putting one in sooner than later.”

First things first, though.

The MJMHA has done their due diligence throughout the summer in order to prepare for the new season and are moving along as if things are going to happen, that the COVID-19 pandemic will subside enough that games will go ahead.

“Our board of directors have been meeting through the summer to make sure that plans are in place, and obviously we’re in a wait-and-hold period as we wait to hear from Sask Hockey, the Sask Health Authority and the government as they work on a plan for the fall,” Flanagan explained. “So we’re just waiting patiently, but we want people to know that we’re planning and we’ll be ready for the season to start. We just need to get some ice in.”

It certainly doesn’t hurt that registration numbers are higher than they have been in recent years, something Flanagan points to as a sign of how eager players and their families are to see the game return.

“Parents are willing to let kids go to the rink and let them skate and just have some fun after so much time away from the game and just off the ice,” he said. “Even for the mental health of these kids, they need to get back into these rinks. Hockey was taken away from them in March. Now, parents and families have to travel outside the city if they want to help these kids out, and it seems like we’re going to fall behind just because we don’t have any ice.

“We’re scheduling our Tier evaluations out in Caronport because we have no ice out here,” Flanagan added. “It’s frustrating, but we’re hoping we can put some pressure on the city and get some ice so we can start playing in a safe and timely manner without having to travel.”

For their part, the city is currently non-committal to late-summer ice, with re-opening days for all four local ice sheets, including Mosaic Place, currently under review and information to be released once things are set.

When things do get going, minor hockey plans to make it as safe as possible even on top of the SHA recommendations, going so far as to solicit advice from medical professionals as to the best way to go about the restart locally.

“When we get a start date from Sask Hockey and we have ice in here, we’re going to create some Return to Play committees in our own hockey association,” Flanagan said. “We’ve had some local physicans in town here saying they would help us out and prepare, and we’re going to co-ordinate with the city to see what we can do to get things going again in the safest way possible.”

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