Despite a challenging year for sport amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Penticton Minor Hockey Association (PMHA) is celebrating a successful season on and off the ice thus far.
The association currently has over 500 kids from ages 4 to 17 registered on 28 teams. And although everyone would prefer the normality of a non-pandemic season, spirits have remained high as the kids have been able to continue to develop their skills on the ice with friends since the season began in September.
At the start of the season, PMHA teams were able to play games against other association teams until the beginning of November when public health orders relegated teams to only playing games within their own league.
A few weeks later, public health orders announced Nov. 19, 2020 put an end to all games as coronavirus cases across the province surged.
Since cancelling games, the PMHA has kept kids busy by holding regular team practices in compliance with viaSport British Columbia’s “Return to Sport” guidelines.
The province is currently in phase two of the guidelines, meaning travel is not allowed, no spectators are allowed in the rink and only one team is permitted on the ice at a time.
Although most kids would like to be playing games, the PMHA has been able to make the most of the difficult season, said PMHA administrator Darla Roy.
“They’re just enjoying being on the ice and being with their friends,” said Roy.
Even though it’s likely that the association will see little game time this year, the vast majority of kids and parents decided to stay enrolled and play through the season, according to Roy.
Roy said this a testament to the dedication and love for the sport shared by many Penticton youth.
Even though games aren’t being played right now, there’s still much to be gained for the kids by hitting the ice regularly with their friends.
“I have kids of my own that play hockey and they still love the sport; but the team aspect — being able to go somewhere and play with their friends and be a part of a group is really a big part of it,” Roy said.
Throughout the entire season B.C. Hockey, viaSport, the City of Penticton and Spectra Venue Management have been there to help guide the PMHA hold a safe and fun season for the kids. “There’s been a lot of team work and it’s really been helpful,” said Roy.
PMHA currently has ice-time at all four public indoor rinks in Penticton: McLaren Arena, the South Okanagan Events Centre, Penticton Memorial Arena and the Okanagan Hockey Training Centre.
The PMHA has ice booked at all four rinks until the middle of March and hopes that the restrictions will be changed in time to give the kids some extra game and practice time.