Categorized | News, Sports

Pandemic keeps Fort Macleod charity hockey tournament on pause

Scott Norlin

In a normal year, past and present Fort Macleod hockey players would be lacing up the blades next weekend for a charity hockey tournament.

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging and record numbers of new cases being recorded in Alberta, 2020 is far from a normal year.

As a result the Hockey Through the Ages tournament is postponed at least until March, and possibly longer.

“I would think we will sit down in early January, if we are able to even do that,  and discuss if March is feasible,” said Scott Norlin of the organizing committee. “I would think that if all rules were removed we could get it up and running with 60 days notice.”

The tournament in its first two years raised close to $100,000 that was invested in health care and other community causes.

The third tournament was to run this month, after taking last year off, but public health rules in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 put those plans on ice.

The organizing committee of Norlin, Rob Luther, Mike Davis, Ben Paskal, Brian Reach, Cole Archibald, Gage DeGinnus, Wes Stockton and Mike Bourassa were optimistic the tournament could go ahead this month.

When the number of new COVID-19 cases continued to grow in daily reports, the province tightened restrictions on social gatherings and other activities.

As a result, hockey leagues across the province were put on pause at least until the new year.

Norlin said even if hockey resumed under the rules that were in place to limit the number of spectators and use of dressing rooms, it is unlikely the tournament would go ahead.

“I guess we would revisit as a group, but I wouldn’t see it happening with rules that were in place just prior to this last set that were handed down,” Norlin said.

The social aspect of the tournament is a major component.

Players enjoyed the opportunity to renew friendships and socialize, and large numbers of spectators also turned out to watch games and visit.

The social component of the tournament would be all but impossible under COVID-19 rules.

“I think removing the social aspect of the tournament would keep a lot of people from signing up,” Norlin said. “Probably a large portion of past players signed up for the visiting with old friends and family for the weekend, more so than the hockey, which has mostly been ruled out.”

The Hockey Through the Ages tournament is open to men and women aged 25 years and over who have either lived in Fort Macleod or played Minor Hockey here.

Players who are first to pay the $150 registration fee are “drafted” onto one of eight teams made up of 13 skaters and one goalie.

Each team is guaranteed four games, including one in a playoff contest.

In each of its first two years the tournament attracted a full complement of players.

Organizers remain hopeful, but the reality of the pandemic could delay the tournament at least until December 2021.

“Hopefully it’s a go but these restrictions . . . would make it really tough for a tourney,” said Luther, who had the original idea for the tournament.

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