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In 2018, it was the Arctic Winter Games which caused Polar Pond Hockey in Hay River to be cancelled.

In 2019, it was warm weather.

There was a 2020 edition of the event but it was pared down significantly due to the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stephanie McCabe stickhandles the puck during the 2020 Polar Pond Hockey tournament on the ice of the Hay River in front of Fisherman’s Wharf. This year’s edition won’t happen after it was cancelled by organizers owing to the current public health restrictions.
NNSL file photo

This year, Covid-19 is the reason that Polar Pond Hockey will be cancelled for the third time in four years. The announcement was made via a social media post on Wednesday afternoon with organizers stating it wouldn’t happen because of the current public health restrictions.

Glenn Smith, senior administrative officer for the town of Hay River, said on Wednesday afternoon that it was disappointing to hear about the cancellation.

“The community has recognized that it’s been a successful event in terms of improving tourism for the town and it’s an economic driver as well,” he said. “It’s a great event for community bonding and I’m just hopeful we can have it come back in 2022 under normal conditions.”

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Last year’s tournament was held right before the meat and potatoes of sporting events were either postponed or cancelled outright. The hockey portion of the event was all that happened; the traditional Friday evening gala and beer gardens were both taken out of the equation as a result of a recommendation from the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.

Terry Rowe, who works on the event’s organizing committee, said the decision to cancel came late last week after a canvassing of the executive committee.

“I fired off some e-mails to see what the interest was in hosting things this year and it wasn’t looking too good,” he said. “There would have been a lot of risk and liability involved and people didn’t seem too keen on having that.”

There were also questions on how many people there could have been at Fisherman’s Wharf, the site of the tournament, as well as what could or couldn’t be hosted, he added.

“Our liquor licence was the first thing that got pulled last year and I had a feeling we probably wouldn’t get one for this year,” he said. “It was just a lot of work involved and we probably see much of a return on it so we decided to take it off the table for this year.”

The tournament has been going for 13 years and Rowe said he wants to see it continue next year.

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