The Summerland Minor Hockey Association has had to make changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Games, such as this one from 2018, are not allowed, but players have been working on skills development. (Summerland Review file photo)

The Summerland Minor Hockey Association has had to make changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Games, such as this one from 2018, are not allowed, but players have been working on skills development. (Summerland Review file photo)

Summerland minor hockey focuses on skills development

Ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected practices for young players

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in changes for the Summerland Minor Hockey Association, but it has not cancelled the sport.

Lisa Chartrand, president of the association, said coaches and players are still taking to the ice this year, with 131 players registered compared to the 128 players last season.

READ ALSO: Junior hockey team in B.C. pleads for an opportunity to play during pandemic

READ ALSO: Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Because of the pandemic, the players are not able to play games or even compete in three-on-three matches. Instead, they have been working on improving their skills.

“Their passing skills and their skating skills are improving immensely,” Chartrand said.

“They’re all improving so much.”

The players must be three metres apart when they are on the ice, a requirement changing the way practices are conducted.

“We’re re-inventing the hockey wheel. Our coaches have had to find new ways to help kids practice and still have fun,” she said.

In addition, the restrictions mean spectators are not allowed in the arena. Instead, some volunteers have been at the arena, capturing videos of the practices and live-streaming for parents.

The players range in age from five to 18 years of age, with the largest groups in the novice and pre-novice categories.

For the coming year, she hopes players will be able to resume normal hockey practices and games. Applications for coaches will be available at the beginning of July. Registration for players will be available at the same time at summerlandminorhockey.org.

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