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With the Yellowknife Sporting Club getting its approval to host a summer camp at the Yk Community Arena, all eyes turned to what would happen to minor hockey in Yellowknife, period.

Would there be a season of some kind? Would there be a winter of wondering what might have been?
The answer came down last week from the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer and it is good.

The Yk Minor Hockey Association has been given the go-ahead to have something resembling a season; the association received a verbal green light last Thursday, which was delivered to those gathered for the annual general meeting at the Multiplex that evening.

The Aurora Storm captured the Peewee Cup title during the Yk Minor Hockey Association’s Championship Sunday finals day back in March. They are, front row from left, Asher Hutton, Karter Carson, James Therrien, James Freake, Josh Soloy and Hunter Froude; middle row from left, Nicholas Gray, Zeph Whelan, Maxime Gilbert and Brady Flesjer; back row from left, coach Mike Soloy, Evan Power, Ryan Harris, coach Glen Whelan, Hendrix Balmer and coach Zeph Murdock. If all goes according to plan, there may be game action this year so long as the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer allows it to happen.
photo courtesy of Glen Whelan

Kacee MacLean, the association’s past president, said there was a sense of relief that the association’s proposal was approved in principle.

The association submitted its own proposal with bits and pieces taken from the sporting club’s approved document, she said.

“Ours is a bit more involved because we’re playing a full season and not for just a few weeks,” she said.

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The hope is to introduce the proposal in phases and it looks something like this:

The opening phase will be practices only and they are scheduled to begin at the Yk Community Arena on Sept. 18.

MacLean said that’s a bit later than normal – things usually get underway the day after Labour Day – in part because there are plenty of adjustments that the players will be going through both in terms of how they will play and at school.

Small-area practices will be the name of the game to begin with proper distancing being adhered to, she added.

If all goes well after six weeks, phase two will see things move into 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 games with the ultimate goal of moving into full 5-on-5 games in January.

The development team program will happen this season, said MacLean, as it’s geared toward getting players ready for the Canada Winter Games and Arctic Winter Games.

“Cross our fingers, those will still be happening,” she said. “There likely won’t be any travel for those teams and we haven’t seen any associations in Alberta or B.C. advertising or promoting tournaments.”

In a normal season, registrations could be taken care of either in one shot or by paying in monthly installments but MacLean said the latter will be the case for this season.

“That’s in the event of another shutdown and people possibly not being able to pay all at once,” she said. “The first payment will be a bit more than the others because that covers insurance and other up-front items. The rest of the payments look after the ice times.”

The association will be at the community arena until at least Sept. 24 as the city is still working on getting the Ed Jeske Olympic and Shorty Brown Arenas ready for the ice sports season.

Alison Harrower, a spokesperson with the city, said in a statement that the city is continuing to work with the Chief Public Health Officer on the possible re-opening of facilities.

Getting to this point was a lot of work, said MacLean but a lion’s share of that fell in the lap of Hockey NWT, which has been putting together the return-to-play plans for many leagues and associations around the territory.

“They pulled resources from all over to get this done,” she said. “They looked at Alberta, B.C., Nova Scotia, Ontario and a lot of rinks in the United States. That was all taken into consideration when the decision was made to allow us to re-open.”

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