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Lots of change and uncertainty facing local clubs

Ice sports heat up as arenas reopen

​West Nipissing Sting U8/U9 player Sam Steven was excited to hit the ice last week.

by Eric Thompson
October 28, 2020

West Nipissing youth have started lacing up their skates and returning to the ice, as the reality of how a season of winter sports will look during a pandemic is taking shape.

The Sturgeon Falls Arena reopened on October 19. Since then, local teams have been taking to the ice under strict guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. From only being allowed to arrive 15 minutes prior to practice and entering through an assigned door, to restricting how many parents can go inside with their kids, there’s a lot of extra steps that come with ice sports in 2020. But those are steps people are willing to take to get back to doing what they love.

“It was good to see the kids back on the ice with smiles on their faces,” says Sarah Rondeau, President of West Nipissing Minor Hockey Association, following their first practices for U15 and U18 teams. “They all came off saying they were extremely out of shape, so they’ll have to work on that,” she jokes.

After seeing such enthusiasm for the arena reopening in Sturgeon Falls, the next evening, Oct. 20, West Nipissing council decided to reopen the Verner Arena as well. The earliest the Verner rink will be ready for use is November 16, noted Stephan Poulin, Director of Economic Development and Community Services, and it may even take a bit longer. Still, it was good news for the Verner Bulls hockey league and the Verner Figure Skating Club, who had feared their ice might stay closed all winter.

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