How Winnipeg hockey players are handling their cancelled seasons

By: Brandan Ranville

Hockey players across the city are coping with a lost season after the province updated public health guidelines cancelling all sporting events.

The Manitoba government announced on Nov. 12 that all sports and recreation facilities would close.

According to Hockey Manitoba, approximately 30,000 coaches, officials, volunteers, and players register for each season. Some players say the circumstances are beginning to take a toll.

“It’s hard. I’m used to being active all the time, so having to sit in my room and not be moving is hard,” said London Hoilett. 

Hoilett played forward for RINK Hockey Academy’s U16 prep team before the season was cut short. The 15-year-old said he’s doing what he can to keep himself in top shape, but that has proved difficult with limited resources at home. 

The parking lot of the BellMTS Iceplex sits quietly at a time when the parking lot is typically full./BRANDAN RANVILLE

“The team sent me some at-home drills to do,” he said. “I might go for a run or workout in my garage. That’s about it, though.”

Aidan Marchand, 17, said he barely started his high school season as a goalie for the Westwood Warriors before his season shut down. He said he’s used some unconventional methods to stay in shape without ice time.

“It has been pretty different because I went from being on the ice every day to nothing,” said Marchand. “I’ve been working to keep my flexibility high, so when I can get back out there, I’m not too stiff.”

Both Hoilett and Marchand are not upset by the lockdown and felt it was a necessary course of action. 

“I’m sure the [government officials] have kids of their own that they would like to watch, but it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Hoilett.

Players across the province want to get back to the game they love as soon as possible. The Manitoba government announced vaccine distribution plans on Dec. 9, so hockey players may be able to return to play sometime in 2021.