Island youth hockey leagues suspend games amid surge in COVID-19 cases
VICTORIA -- In an emergency meeting Wednesday night, the Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association (VIAHA) decided to implement a two-week "circuit breaker," cancelling all youth hockey games for a 14-day period.
The meeting was comprised of executives from all 17 island associations, and the decision to curb the schedule received no opposition.
"We agreed to suspend games for this week and next week," said Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey president Harold Bloomenthal.
"We’ll review what the province says today and possibly adjust certain cohorts to involve less travel when gameplay is feasible," he said.
Teams will continue practicing on island rinks with increased protocols. Masks are now mandatory at all rinks with no exceptions.
The action is in response to surging cases of COVID-19 in the province, and VIAHA president Jim Humphrey estimates there are about 20 players on Vancouver Island with COVID-19.
On Monday night, concerns of island players competing and training outside their cohorts prompted a stern message. Humphrey says players made trips to the Lower Mainland for skill development, and that any player choosing to play or practice outside his or her cohort faces a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The opportunity for elite skill development, pandemic or not, is too tempting for a small minority of families who opt to send their children to "rogue" leagues that operate outside the restrictions and regulations imposed by BC Hockey and Hockey Canada.
"They’re going after these parents that are upset that their kid might not make the NHL next year when he’s 12," said Humphrey.
The VIAHA cancelled the remainder of its 2019-2020 season on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.