Western Riptide Female Hockey gearing up for a “normal” season

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>KEN CHETWYND, PHOTO</p><p>Western Riptide Female Hockey U18 team who posed for a shot in Liverpool last season. The team comprised players from Chester to Yarmouth. This season there will be a U18 team based out of Chester/Lunenburg and out of Yarmouth.</p>

After months of being disenfranchised amid a global pandemic that has had many of us sequestered in our homes and isolated from local and global communities, there may be some respite offered by that most Canadian of pastimes - hockey.

South and western shore women's hockey to be exact.

The Western Riptide Female Hockey Association recently announced it's allocated teams for all of the girls who pre-registered for Western Riptide hockey.

It will be icing seven teams of girls in the Under Eleven (U11) to U18 categories this season, a record number for the Riptide.

The Association serves the western region from Chester to Digby.

There's one U11 team in Chester, one in Liverpool and one in Yarmouth. There's also a U 13 in Yarmouth, a U15 team out of Chester and U18 teamx out of Chester/Lunenburg and Yarmouth.

"It's starting to look like a 'normal' hockey season, at least to begin," Michael Chapman, the association chair, told LighthouseNOW.

He suggested that if the epidemiology surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic stays low in the province, "then we may actually be able to get through a normal hockey season.

"And I think something 'normal', especially something as Canadian as hockey, for this year, it's refreshing to think that we can have that, after where we were," said Chapman.

He added that if that's the case, it would "give us a glimmer of hope that, you know, things can be similar to how they were in the past.

"We went through a time in March when we had no idea whether hockey was going to come back, or whether school was going to come back, or what life was going to look like," Chapman stressed.

Association members are hoping the players can participate in the same number of practices and games for the regular season, the playoffs and provincials as previous years. Typically a season might have 35 to 40 games and roughly the same number of practices. However, it's not expected there will be tournaments this year.

In any case, spectators and players will be following strict health guidelines.

Arenas are allowed to operate with 50 per cent of their capacity, or a maximum of 200 spectators. Those attending will have to adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear masks.

The players will still be allowed to use the dressing rooms, but will have to go through a pre-screening protocol before every ice session. They'll also have to monitor themselves.

Each team will have a COVID-19 safety rep. "And their sole job is to make sure everyone is following guidelines and also is screened properly," explained Chapman.

"I think hockey can be blamed a little bit in the past of having players play when they were injured or when they were sick. That is something that's not going to happen this year. So people really need to be honest about how they're feeling, going to the rink this year," Chapman said.

"That's players and their parents and family members. It's important that we keep everyone healthy this year," he added.

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