Surrey Thunder battle Ridge Meadows Rustlers in an Atom division game during a recent hockey season. (File photo: Colleen Flanagan)

Surrey Thunder battle Ridge Meadows Rustlers in an Atom division game during a recent hockey season. (File photo: Colleen Flanagan)

Surrey-area associations gear up for hockey restart

But it’s not yet clear when city-operated rinks and rec centres will reopen

Surrey-area minor hockey associations are aiming to hit the ice again later this summer, as always.

Registration has opened for play in the Surrey, Cloverdale, Semiahmoo and North Delta associations that comprise the Valley West zone in B.C.

The regional Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association said it is “well positioned for a successful season start in September, following prescribed return-to-play protocols from our sport governing bodies, the public health authorities and provincial government.

“It is our intention to have both recreational and rep hockey,” the association said in a July 3 statement. “This includes preparing game schedules for various return-to-play scenarios. We are pleased that we are now in Phase 3 of B.C’s Restart Plan, and we are beginning to see some of our municipal arenas reopen with programming run by our member associations.”

Local minor hockey associations are looking to start on-ice sessions in mid-August, as in previous seasons, but in Surrey it’s not yet clear when city-operated rinks and rec centres will reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city is looking at a “phased” re-opening of rec centres starting in the fall “if conditions stay the same,” City Manager Vincent Lalonde told Surrey council at its June 29 meeting.

Meantime, hockey practices organized by individuals have been held at private rinks including Langley Sportsplex and Delta Planet Ice. No Hockey Canada-sanctioned events are currently allowed.

The PCAHA says it has been working with its member associations on plans for a safe return to hockey. Regular meetings with all parties “have been occurring since April to plan and prepare for next season.”

(Story continues below)

• RELATED STORY: New PJHL boss is game for the return of hockey this fall, if green light given.

The Now-Leader was on a recent Zoom conference with executives from Valley West minor hockey associations, including Surrey president Harbs Bains, Cloverdale president Deanna Cox, North Delta president Robert Reid and Semiahmoo executive director Dave Newson.

“We know we have to work together to make this game come back this fall, and also make it comfortable and seamless for our members,” Bains said.

In early June, Hockey Canada said the best approach for a return to hockey in Canada is to allow each of its 13 provincial organizations “the opportunity to work with authorities in their respective regions to determine when it is safe to return to the ice in areas that fall under their jurisdiction.”

Minor hockey registration has since begun, and pre-season camps planned.

“With our registration patterns,” Newson said, “we’re getting good numbers and very little negative feedback about plans to return – just a couple of emails from people wondering what the season’s going to look like and if it’s a good time to register, that type of thing. But I think people are sensing that there will be some hockey in some form, and that it might look different but they want to be part of it when the time comes.”

Reid said “the rumour mill kind of took over for a few weeks there, with people saying there’d be no hockey, no games, nothing,” due to the pandemic.

“Unless we hear otherwise, our game is going ahead the way it always has. If we have to modify it once we do get direction, we have a contingency plan in place.

“We spend so much time chasing our kids off the XBoxes,” Reid added, “and for a couple months there’s been nothing but that, but I get the impression that parents are itching, absolutely itching to get back to what we know and love.”

Cox, who was elected president in Cloverdale in the spring, said the issues include tournaments and how they would be played.

“I had one of my rep coaches asking about registering for a fall tournament in the States, and we agreed that that’s a bad idea,” Cox said. “It’s about finding something local, and hopefully by the spring they can go back into the U.S. for tournaments, places out of town.”

For associations across Canada starting this coming season, divisions of minor hockey will no longer be known as Peewee, Bantam, Midget and similar names. In a change announced last November, Hockey Canada has moved to U7, U9 and other alpha-numeric, age-specific division names.

“We just have to keep getting the message out with the new branding, and be consistent,” Bains said. “The kids will get used to it right away, but it might take longer for the parents.”

COVID or no COVID, Newson said all of the local associations are interested in gaining more access to city-operated rinks and using private facilities less, for financial reasons.

New to Surrey at the start of last hockey season was North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex, a three-sheet arena built near Pattullo Bridge as a replacement for the two-sheet North Surrey Recreation Centre.

“For us,” Bains said, “it was a great new building and the anticipation and excitement was there. Some found it a long ways to travel because they got used to the other rink location, but as the season progressed it was fine. The kids loved playing there.”

For those in Cloverdale, the new rink provided some relief in an area where the city cancelled plans to build a two-sheet arena.

“We found that we could do more practices closer to home, and didn’t have to buy as much ice in Langley, for example, that early-morning ice,” Cox said.

“We found this past year that they expanded their adult hockey even more (at Surrey Sport and Leisure, in Fleetwood), and I get that the city has to make their arenas profitable, but we get complaints every single week about kids having such bad ice times,” Cox continued.

“It’s hard on the kids when they’re practicing at 10:30, 10:45 at night, or 5:30 in the morning, just to get on the ice here in Surrey. We could get better times in Langley but then we’d be paying three times the rate we’d pay in Surrey. We have kids at the Bantam and Midget ages who quit because the ice times are so bad.”

• RELATED STORY: Virtual Hockey Canada camp for Surrey’s Reimer and other U17 players.

In other hockey news, BC Hockey says it will be operating a zone program for the 2020-2021 season, putting to rest rumours that the program would be scrapped during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BC Hockey Zone AAA/AA Program provides elite-level development for players aged 13 to 18. The focus of this program is to prepare them for the next level of hockey through expanded draw zones.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

hockey

Just Posted

West Coast Duty Free president Gary Holowaychuk stands next to empty shelves inside his store on Tuesday (June 15). (Aaron Hinks photo)
Revenue down 97% at South Surrey duty free as owner waits for U.S. border to reopen

Products approaching best before dates had to be donated, others destroyed

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
Surrey singer soars into Searchlight song contest’s top 10 with ‘It Doesn’t Matter’

Argel Monte de Ramos is among ‘popular vote’ finalists, with winner to be announced June 22

A handful of White Rock Divers qualified for Junior Development National Diving Championships after strong showings at virtual meets earlier this spring. (Contributed photo)
White Rock Divers qualify for junior-development nationals

Six divers make cut for national event after strong performances at virtual meets

Cover of the 32-page Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers, created and compiled by Jeska Slater.
New ‘Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers’ seeks to ‘uplift and amplify’ voices

32-page guide launched Tuesday by Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)

Popular event/party band March Hare will appear in an online streamed performance Friday (June 18) featuring their salute to music of the `60s and `70s as part of BEC Entertainment’s Grand Summer Virtual Concert series. (Contributed photo)
White Rock-based BEC Entertainment continues Friday-night virtual concerts

March Hare and California Surf Incorporated featured

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

Most Read