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Hockey tournaments up in the air for Rankin Inlet teams

The relaxing of some of the Covid-19 restrictions saw both the return of games in the Rankin Inlet Senior Men's Hockey League on Dec. 14 and action in all divisions of the Rankin Rock minor hockey program.

Team coach, senior hockey executive and minor hockey executive member David Clark said with the hockey programs still going on Jan. 1, the situation is in the process of being re-evaluated.

Program instructor David Clark explains the next on-ice drill to a group of U11 players at the Northwestel Rankin Rock season-opening hockey camp in Rankin Inlet on Oct. 22. Covid-19 restrictions have forced hockey coaches to be creative and do things a little differently this hockey season.
NNSL file photo

That being said, he quickly added that he finds it hard to believe there will be a tournament season in Rankin this time around.

We might have to do more local events and get a little bit more creative that way,” said Clark.

The No. 1 thing for minor hockey events is that we haven't received any funding yet to host tournaments at this point, so if that doesn't change, that pretty much sums it up right there.

I'm still waiting to hear back from the Hockey Nunavut board to see if we're even going to be allowed to host tournaments and, if we are, are we going to get funding to host them? That's what makes it feasible for all the communities to get together and have a little regional tournament.”

Clark said on the minor hockey front, some age groups had to split up in order to meet the Covid guidelines for a period of time.

He said he had to split up his U9 group because they were only allowed to have 25 people on the playing surface at any one time and another 25 up in the stands for a month or two.

Some of our groups were over 25 and that's why they had to be split up.

It was a bit of hit and miss in our attempts to do that fairly and successfully.

Some of the coaches did it by birth year, but I did it based on skill level with my group. I told the parents at the beginning of the year we'd be doing a lot of that because the kids benefit from it when they're playing against kids at their own level and that's what I believe in.

Most of the parents seemed to be OK with it.”

Clark said the maximum 25 situation didn't last all that long and the new year has seen the groups return back to 50.

Even so, he added, hockey is still not where it needs to be when it comes to regional tournaments.

We need to stay a little bit patient because the thing many people don't realize is, when Rankin Inlet is hosting all these tournaments, a lot of times the people coming to town need a place to stay.

That puts a lot of pressure on homes in our community and we almost become a hotel service in that sense.

I don't know if a lot of people are ready for that right now, so our tournament season is totally up in the air. I'm not sure what's going to happen. We'll have a better sense of things come a little later this month.

It's one of those things that changes from day to day. So, just taking it one day at a time has, kind of, been my motto lately. I'll try to do my best with whatever we can do for the kids.”

Clark said if it were to reach the point where a regional event was discussed, everything would have to go through the Department of Health and the chief medical officer for approval.

It's important for us to stay patient so we can make things work in our own community, even if we have to do things a little differently this year.”

Clark said he usually tries to get his groups out to a tournament in the south every season, but that's not going to happen this year.

He said that makes it even more important for the coaches to do their best and make it fun for the kids.

If that means doing different things, then that's what we'll do.

Making it fun for the kids is what it's all about, right?”