When Greater Napanee’s Strathcona Paper Centre re-opens on Tuesday, the Napanee Crunch will be ready.
The female hockey program has been doing everything they can to be ready for when the town opted to re-open the arena. Once the province moved the Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington Health Unit to ‘green’ on Wednesday, the town had the option to re-open the rink to the public. After a short debate at council, it was ultimately decided the day after Family Day the arena would welcome skaters back through its doors for the first time since late December.
“Prior to Christmas, each of our teams practiced one day a week and they played intersquad games one day a week,” said Napanee Crunch Female Hockey Association president Janet Pringle. “We are prepared to start right back at that on Tuesday with the girls being able to play either three-on-three or four-on-four and try to be as socially distanced as possible while doing that.”
Though still modified from what a typical season would look like, Pringle says the players are just happy to be able to get back on the ice. They’ve been playing under modified rules since September before they were interrupted by the provincial lockdown.
“It’s great news,” Pringle said of being given the green light to return to play. “We are being rewarded for being so good in this area with our cases so low. We are making sure that anybody that’s a member of the Napanee Crunch stays within our extended bubbles that we’ve set up to be able to continue play. Because of the month shutdown we have actually extended our season, which normally ends in March. We’ve decided to go through until the end of April.”
Crunch goalies will also be able to resume their training with coach Mike Murphy on Feb. 20.
“Everybody’s excited to get back on the ice and to see everyone and play the game these girls love,” said Pringle. “I think they need it for the social interaction, the exercise and just a little bit of the normalcy that these kids have been missing. It’s been something that they can look forward to every week, which is huge when we’re going through something (like the pandemic.) As a kid it’s much more difficult to understand why they can’t see their friends and why they can’t go to school and why they can’t go play hockey, so it’s great.”
Pringle credited the coaching staff and players for following the rules prior to the lockdown. They include limiting the amount of players in a dressing room at a time to nine, wearing masks when not on the ice, contact tracing and sanitizing hands.
“We just made sure that we followed everything to be able to keep going as long as possible and we’ll continue to follow all those guidelines when things start back up next week,” said Pringle.
Napanee and District Skating Club and the Napanee Raiders have also indicated they too intent to continue their season now that the arena is slated to be re-opened.
“We’re very excited to get the community back in the building,” said Chris Brown, Greater Napanee’s facility manager told council on Feb. 9. “The ice is ready to go, we just have to build it up a little bit thicker. In order to save on energy costs we shaved it down quite thin.”
Napanee District Skating Club will resume its regular programming on Feb. 17 while CanSkate gets going on Feb. 22.
“With the good graces of the town, we will be extending our programs into April to make up for the time lost during the lockdown,” said Jill Woodall of the skating club. “All of our programs are full, due to on-ice number restrictions which are still in place. We are excited to get back to skating and we are grateful to the Town of Greater Napanee for their ongoing support and commitment to sporting activities in our community”
Ice bookings at the SPC will resume on Tuesday as well.
Napanee District Minor Hockey opted to end their season in January and plan to restart in September. The Stars are currently accepting nominations for all positions on the NDMHA executive for the 2021-22 season and must be submitted by Feb. 15 to email@example.com. A meeting for the election of officials is scheduled for Feb. 24 at the SPC starting at 7 p.m.
-Council also voted to offer a break on rental fees for the Stars, Crunch, Raiders and Napanee District Skating Club to account for the months they were unable to access the arena due to the lockdown.