Thirty-three hockey players from the Castlegar Rebels had a training camp like no other at the city’s recreation complex between Sept. 18 and 20.
Team president Mike Johnstone said players had to follow strict health and safety protocols to mitigate the threat of COVID-19 on the ice.
“While players were forced to change into their gear outside of the facility, they were allowed to put their skates on inside the complex by using a chair they were assigned,” said Johnstone.
“After we left the facility every day, we also had to sanitize and wipe down the chairs and other equipment the players had used too.”
Physical contact between the players and scrimmage were other things that weren’t allowed during the camp.
Despite the protocols, players were still able to complete high-tempo drills as well as offence and defence practices. Four goalies also had an opportunity to attend the camp and improve their skills for the upcoming season.
Some of the hockey players and their parents travelled from as far as Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Vancouver Island to participate in the camp. Players from the United States were unable to attend due to strict health protocols.
“With the smaller number of players attending the camp this year, some of the hockey players’ parents were able to watch the camp and still abide by social gathering limits around COVID-19,” said Johnstone.
“It all turned out really well for everyone.”
The Rebels will have three fewer hockey teams in the KIJHL to play against when their 30-game season starts on Friday, Nov. 13. The Beaver Valley Nitehawks and the 100 Mile House Wranglers have opted not to play due to financial uncertainties around COVID-19 and the Spokane Braves won’t be playing with the Canada – U.S. border closed.
“It will definitely be different not playing against our arch-rival this year — the Beaver Valley Nitehawks,” said Johnstone.
“While it’s disappointing, we look forward to playing against them next season.”
Fans also won’t be able to watch the Rebels play in-person at the complex this season; however they’ll be able to watch the games online on HockeyTV.
Team head coach Carter Duffin is confident around how his players will perform this season.
“We made a key focus this year to ensure we have the right type of players on the ice and that they have the right kind of character,” said Duffin.
“I’m really excited for our team this year based on what I’ve seen from our practices and the recent camp.”