Sports teams and clubs across the Elk Valley are mourning the abrupt end of their winter seasons and kids across the region are finding new ways to spend their time.
The Elk Valley Minor Hockey Association (EVMHA) was forced to end their season early due to COVID-19 related shutdowns and according to Crystal Tennant, EVMHA special events coordinator, it was a devastating blow.
“It was especially hard for our Elk Valley Raiders PeeWee Rep team,” she said. “They had earned their way to the B.C. Provincial Championships in Golden which was supposed to start on March 14. They got the news that it was cancelled late in the afternoon on March 12.”
The Raiders team had done extremely well in their season, taking home a win at their banner tournament, as well as in the provincial play down series. The athletes worked incredibly hard both on the ice and off, training and fundraising for the trip. Tennant said that the cancellation was “devastating to the young athletes.”
Although many of the other teams in the league had finished up with their games and tournaments by the time COVID-19 came on the scene, they were still forced to miss the most fun part of the season. The EVMHA holds a windup event every April where the players get pizza, ice cream and awards for a season well played. Obviously the event had to be cancelled this year, although the players will still receive their plaques and trophies as recognition.
Despite the abrupt ending to the season, the EVMHA actually had a fantastic year. Tennant noted that this season, the association had two initiation teams, three pre novice teams, two novice teams, one large atom team, a peewee house team, a peewee rep team and for the first time in several years, an all female team.
Several of the teams hosted home tournaments, while others played in away tournaments against other members of the league.
“The association had two big events as well,” Tennant explained. “Hugh Twa Day in Elkford in November brought all the teams together to play games and the Fernie Ghostriders graciously came and played a game against the Beaver Valley Nighthawks. The stands were packed for the entire weekend. In January the association had Sparwood Hockey Weekend. All of the teams hosted league and exhibition games. Carollas Crue provided the kids with shirts and a spaghetti dinner. It was a fun time for all.”
Although every minor hockey season is jam packed with hockey, laughter and fun, Tennant said that there was one particular moment from the season that really stood out for her.
“A season highlight was an email that was received about one of our teams from a team they played against. The Sparwood pre novice fire team was playing in an Okotoks tournament and an email was sent out from a coach of an opposing team praising how sportsmanlike the players and parents were. It’s always great to hear about athletes being kind to one another.”
Another highlight of the season was getting the all female team up and running. Although it had been a few years since the last all female team hit the ice, after the success of this season, the EVMHA hopes to host two all girl teams next year for girls of different age levels.
The hockey season may be over for this year but the dedicated volunteers with the EVMHA are already looking forward to next season by booking ice time and actively recruiting new members. Tennant courages anyone interested in the club or in volunteering to watch their website, Elkvalleyminorhockeyassociation.com for information on their upcoming annual general meeting.
When asked if she has a message for all the kids out there who were forced to cut their season short, Tennant had this to say.
“You worked hard, had fun and we are all so proud of you. Remember all of the fun and learning you had with your coaches and teammates. We are already planning for next year and can’t wait to see you all.”