This will make about the seventh straight week of no local sports news to speak of. But we haven’t given up and neither have the Slave Lake Icedogs.
“It’s a challenge!” says coach Gregg Kennedy. “No ice time.”
No ice time, because the provincial health restrictions keeping arenas closed were extended with no end date given.
What that means for a junior hockey club hopeful of resuming league play is it has to find other ways to stay focused and in shape.
“We’ve shoveled a lot of snow!” says Kennedy.
Some of it was on Lesser Slave Lake, where the team attempted to set up a practice rink (some of them are living in a house in Widewater). But the lake and the weather had other ideas. So it’s a matter of running some drills on outdoor rinks in Slave Lake, four-on-four in two groups, Kennedy says. Other than that, there’s some teaching of systems going on. D-zone coverage, breakouts, forechecking – that sort of stuff.
When conditions allow, Kennedy is hoping to be able to get the boys into an indoor space for some other types of workouts.
“There must be a warehouse available in Slave Lake,” he says.
The team also put out a call for volunteers last week. Assuming availability resumes at some point, Kennedy says he could use some help at the 2 p.m. weekday practices. Help with social media is also needed, among other things.
Player-wise, Kennedy says four new ones were signed just recently, offsetting some of the losses in personnel over the break.
“We’ll have a lineup,” he says.
The big question, of course, is whether they’ll have a season. If it does re-start, adjustments in the schedule would have to be made to squeeze in the remaining 34 games. Kennedy speculates that weeknight games might become part of the picture.
In the meantime, Kennedy is working with the players he has to maintain some sort of structure. Besides the workouts and strategy sessions, this includes shepherding several of them through their schoolwork. Four or five are enrolled in the local outreach school. Others do work online from home. Others are looking for jobs in town and a couple already have them.