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DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Dawson Creek Council voted to close down the Kin Arena Monday, leaving a single sheet of ice for more than 300 Dawson Creek minor hockey players to share.
DCMHA President Aaron Bull says the association had to fit kids in ice times normally reserved for beer league and rec hockey.
“Lots of 6 a.m. practices and non-prime times. We had 13 and 14-year-olds practicing at nine o’clock at night,” says Bull.
The Kin Arena officially closed down Friday, meaning Dawson Creek hockey players will go from around four hours of ice per week, down to about two and a half hours.
One benefit of the cold winter, outdoor rinks are up and running. Teams are not allowed to use outdoor rinks for practice because they are not covered by insurance.
Bull admits that unstructured ice time at the outdoor rink is a welcome change for the youngsters, as the only thing they’ve been able to do all season is practice.
“Obviously they’ve got more free time on their hands. The way this winter went, it’s been fairly warm until the last little bit, so we’ve had a lot of kids going out to outdoor rinks,” says Bull.
The doldrums of a long season with no games have affected the younger kids differently than the older ones. Bull says they have all adapted well, given the circumstances.
“The kids take everything in stride. Obviously, they’re extremely disappointed, especially as they get older. I’ve got a kid in U-9 and U-11, so they’re both fairly young. They’re disappointed they’re not playing games, but they’re still interested. But I know there are quite a few kids, especially older kids that have lost interest because games are so important to them,” adds Bull.
Parents will give a long list of reasons they want their child in team sports. Competition, building character, battling adversity, and having fun are all at the top of most lists. For the kids, however, Bull says there’s one reason they come to the rink.
“The games are super important, that’s why you practice, right?”
The Memorial Arena in Dawson Creek is still open until the middle of April.
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