It’s a safe bet that the Yellowknife Sporting Club’s summer hockey camp will be closely watched by almost everyone with a stake in anything having to do with an arena.

But talk to one of the club’s co-ordinators and he’ll tell you everything has gone as well as he could have hoped.

The club opened up its summer camp at the Yk Community Arena on Aug. 13 under the regulations approved by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer. Almost every spot in all of the age groups have been accounted for and it looks as if everyone is having fun, according to Darren Wicks, who’s helping look after the organizational side of things.

Most importantly, he added, everyone is playing by the rules laid out.

“The big thing I’ve seen is the trickle-down effect from the parents to the kids,” he said. “The kids all come dressed with their sticks and skates in hand, they’re all distancing when they come in and it’s just fantastic. It’s all going as it should so far.”

Each time slot is set up for 90 minutes per session, which takes into account 60 minutes of on-ice instruction, 15 minutes for each group to change at the start and 15 minutes at the end of each session to change out of skates and into shoes.

Ryder Wicks leaps over the obstacle during a puckhandling drill as part of the Yellowknife Sporting Club’s opening weekend of its hockey camp at the Yk Community Arena on Saturday.
James McCarthy/NNSL photo

Everyone who plans on entering the ice surface area must sign in upon coming in from the parking lot. After that, the players enter through the main door at the top of the spectator seating area and make their way downstairs to the south end of the rink, where they choose a chair to sit in and change. All of the chairs are spaced out six feet from each other as per regulations, including the coaches’ area, and spectators are not allowed in the seating area while practice is going on.

Wicks said there has been no problem with that to date.

“It’s good to see how supportive everyone has been because it’s a huge challenge,” he said. “The kids already have it in their head that they have that 10 to 15-minute window where they come in, get ready, go out on the ice, and then 10 to 15 minutes afterward to get changed and head out.”

Even the on-ice instruction sees the players spaced out during both “chalk talk” from the instructors and while waiting in line to take part in drills.

“The coaches on the ice have been relaying to me what’s been working and if anything needs to be tweaked,” said Wicks.

The city has also been a big help in getting everything together, he added.

“Kevin Hewitt (indoor facilities supervisor) and his crew did a lot of work and they’ve been amazing,” he said.

The players themselves seem to be happy to get back, one of them being Ryder Wicks, who’s in the U15 group.

He said it’s been a long time coming but it was worth the wait.

“I got really happy when I saw the NHL starting up and I knew our chances were going up,” he said.

He knows that this will be a much different type of hockey season, which includes the chance of no tournament travel down south.

“I’ve been talking with my dad and we were saying that if Yellowknife stays in a good position, we might not be as bad as what’s happening elsewhere,” he said. “I’d miss not being able to go south, though.”

No matter what, Darren Wicks said it’s all a case of everyone doing what they can to make sure everything goes off without any situations because everyone wants to have hockey back.

“If we get a couple of cases, will it go back to where it was before? Maybe,” he said. “I think we’re all going to pull together on this and make sure we don’t take a step back. By everyone, I mean hockey, gymnastics, softball, speedskating. All of the organizations are going to help keep things safe.”

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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