Red Wings back on ice

The High Prairie Red Wings resumed practices Feb. 9 at the Sports Palace as COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed to allow hockey activities under strict rules and social distancing.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Hockey in High Prairie is back on the ice as COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed to allow ice arenas to welcome small groups.

The High Prairie Red Wings returned to the Sports Palace on Feb. 8 as the team prepares to return to action in the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League.

However, no date has been set to resume the season that was suspended after the four teams in West Division last played Nov. 21.

“Everybody’s excited to be skating, players are happy,” head coach Kevin Hopfner says.

“We’re practising under strict restrictions.”

Revised restrictions allow only 10 skaters on the ice at one time and players must be 18 years of age and under and social distancing is required.

Hopfner says most of the players on the team are 18-and-under.

“We’re doing a lot of passing drills and skating drills and shooting at the goalie,” Hopfner says.

The team is eager to get into the real action.

“Hopefully we can resume the season soon,” Hopfner says.

West Division expansion director Derek Prue hopes the West Division will able to resume the season in the next few weeks as restrictions are relaxed.

“The first week in March is what we’re aiming for,” Prue says.

“As COVID cases and hospitalizations fall in the coming weeks, I’m sure well see restrictions ease up.”

The league has applied to get a dispensation, an exemption to play, from Alberta Health Services and the provincial government, similar what was granted to the Western Hockey League which is allowed to start Feb. 26 for teams in Alberta.

“We’d love to start as soon as possible,” Prue says.

“We’ll have to see what happens with the dispensation.”

High Prairie and the three other teams in the division are talking to local government authorities to request that ice remain in their arenas.

“We’re reaching out to communities to see if they will keep the ice in arenas into May or June,” Prue says.

For the past several weeks, he has spoken with the Town of High Prairie to determine if the Red Wings would be able to play at the Sports Palace.

He says teams are ready to return to action anytime.

“The nice thing about our division is that we’re flexible with four teams ready to go immediately,” Prue says.

“We have a lot of scenarios in place to play games and have a proper championship.”

The Red Wings have played 10 games in a 42-game regular season. Riding a seven-game winning streak, High Prairie sits in first place in the West Division with a 7-3 record for 14 points.

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