South Peace News
The junior hockey season resumes for the High Prairie Red Wings, but no spectators are allowed in the arena.
Action returns April 2 in the West Division in the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League as COVID-19 restrictions continue.
West Division expansion director Derek Prue says the four teams in the all-Alberta division are allowed to play after Alberta Health Services and the provincial government granted a dispensation, an exemption to play.
“All the teams have been practising for more than a month,” Prue says.
“Being on in the ice is the most important for player development and playing the games is gravy.”
He says the teams don’t need spectators to operate.
Teams resumed practicing Feb. 9 after their last game Nov. 21.
High Prairie visits the Fox Creek Ice Kings on April 2 before the Red Wings host Enoch Northern Alberta Tomahawks on April 3. All games start at 7:30 p.m.
Games can be viewed online on gmhl.tv.
The Red Wings also reached an agreement with the Town of High Prairie to keep the ice in at the Sports Palace until the end of May, Prue says.
That would be until the end of the regular season before the playoffs are scheduled for June, he says.
“We’ll decide about June when that rolls around,” Prue says.
High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk confirms the ice will remain in the Sports Palace to accommodate the delayed and extended season.
“We are willing to keep the ice in past the end of March, providing the extra cost to keep the ice in is covered by the Red Wings,” Panasiuk says.
The Town granted the request after a few conversations with the team.
Panasiuk says in an e-mail Feb. 24 that the Town planned to take out the ice at the end of March since it becomes costly to maintain the ice in warmer months.
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 14 points on seven wins and three losses.
Slave Lake has eight points on four wins and four losses in eight games.
Enoch Northern Alberta Tomahawks also have eight points, on four wins and two losses in six games.
Division newcomers Fox Creek Ice Kings have four points on one win and two overtime losses in eight games.
Prue and the teams hoped fans would be allowed when COVID restrictions were updated March 22.
Step 3 allows spectators and larger gatherings.