The province’s latest pandemic restrictions are having unintended consequences, says the B.C. Hockey League.
On Wednesday morning, the Penticton Vees hit the ice at the South Okanagan Events Centre to practice.
Well, at least some of them did — 12 players on the team’s roster were forced to sit and watch from the stands, victims of Henry’s latest province-wide restrictions.
“It’s simply because of their birthdate,” Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson told Global News.
On Thursday, Dec. 3, the provincial health officer (PHO) banned people over 18 years of age from playing all indoor and outdoor team sports in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It’s a story of unintended consequences,” said BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb.
That province-wide restriction on adult sports also included junior hockey players.
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“So, we literally have a situation where our 16, 17 and 18-year-olds can skate under the orders of the PHO, and the 19 and 20-year-olds have to sit in the stands,” Hebb explained.
As a result, Matteo Constantini and the rest of the Penticton Vees’ young guns struggled to take the ‘shooter tutor’ seriously during practice.
That’s because the Vees’ two goalies are on the sidelines under the new rule.
“Both our goalies, one is 19 one is 20. Pretty hard to run practice without goalies,” Harbinson lamented.
Up in the stands, it’s a tale of two Niedermayers.
Hockey on hold, no on-ice practice for BCHL hockey players
“We understand what’s going on, but, at the same time, we want to stay in our little bubble and follow the guidelines that have been put out,” said Harbinson.
“We think the 19 and 20-year-olds should be allowed to do that with their teammates.”
Recently, though, a Vees player tested positive for COVID-19. However, Harbinson maintains that the team’s stringent coronavirus protocols keep players safer than if they weren’t part of the roster.
“When they are in my environment and practicing every day, and under our watch from morning till night, they’re probably in a safer situation for themselves and the people they come in contact with,” Harbinson said.
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Harbinson says perhaps the team’s best illustration of the arbitrary nature of the new regulation is winger Luc Wilson, who just turned 19 two weeks ago.
Had his birthday been later, Wilson could be practicing instead of watching practice.
According to Hebb, there is a reconsideration clause in the new order, and the league has reached out to Henry, hoping to make their case.
“We have sent two reconsideration letters that we laboured over to make the point in a number of cases, that there should be an exemption for our players,” Hebb said.
So far though, he said, those letters have gone unanswered.
Coronavirus: Junior hockey teams in Okanagan impacted by B.C.’s new public health orders
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