Coronavirus: Saskatchewan Hockey Association issues ban-on-competition reminder

The Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) is reminding all of its members that competition of any kind is in violation of the current COVID-19-related public health orders from the provincial government.

General manager Kelly McClintock said the reminder was put out on Tuesday after they noticed video on social media of an under-18 boys team playing four-on-four in Estevan.

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“You can’t play four-on-four, you can’t play any type of that. They had a referee — [the video] shows him dropping the puck — and so players certainly weren’t socially distanced or anything and people are on the bench standing side-by-side,” McClintock said.

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“They were playing basically four-on-four but there was five extra skaters so it really had about 20 kids and it’s completely against the Re-Open Saskatchewan guidelines.”

He said this is the first incident of it’s of kind that’s been brought to the SHA’s attention since the novel coronavirus pandemic started almost a year ago.

“This is really the first time that it’s been, and to be honest … if it wasn’t on Facebook, we probably wouldn’t have heard about it,” McClintock said.

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“I’m not naive enough to think that in some places that they haven’t been breaking the rules either. It’s just that people have kept it pretty darn quiet.”

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During a COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said he was unaware of the video but added he was sure it would be dealt with in an appropriate manner.

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“This is the first time I’ve been made aware of that. It’d be disappointing if any organization is operating outside of the public health measures that we have in place,” Moe said.

Read more: Saskatchewan premier hints at easing some COVID-19 restrictions early

“In particular, given just how close we are to finding our way through this pandemic with increased access to vaccines, ultimately increased opportunity in the weeks ahead to start to change some of the measures that we have had in place.”

The SHA GM stressed that its members abide by the current government of Saskatchewan public health orders in the fight against COVID-19.

“I think people are COVID-burnt-out and if you’re in some area of the province where maybe there’s little to no cases, you feel fairly safe and so it’s ‘well, what’s the big deal about breaking the guidelines?’” McClintock said.

“But the reality is … the entire province is dealt with as one body.

“We’ve been promoting since last year to our minor hockey associations that we’re all in this together and if all it takes is one or two to not follow guidelines and then, we get looked upon in a negative light and we all have to work together and do our due diligence.”

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Read more: Saskatchewan COVID-19 sports restrictions weigh on young athletes: ‘It’s mentally challenging’

In regards to the alleged incident in Estevan, McClintock said SHA has a discipline chair that’s investigating.

Public health measures suspending amateur and recreational competition for sports teams were brought into effect by the Saskatchewan government on Nov. 27, 2020, to help reduce COVID-19 case numbers. These measures permitted under The Public Health Act are to be reviewed on March 19.

According to the provincial government on Thursday, there were 169 new cases with the overall infection total in Saskatchewan now at 29,220. There have been 391 COVID-19-related deaths to date.

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