The Huskies women’s hockey team has settled in at their new rink. Head coach Steve Kook says that “it’s not home,” but they are glad to be together regardless.
“The team is adjusting well because at this point, with all the uncertainty, we’re just very happy to be able to train and skate and practice,” Kook said.
A new home for Huskies hockey
The group is now practicing at SaskTel Centre after Merlis Belsher Place was converted into a field hospital. The change was to provide more space to treat patients in case of an outbreak of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Kook says that the team is happy with the change because they can “at least be together as a group” during this pandemic.
Fifth-years Bailee Bourassa, Emily Upgang and Jessica Vance, and former University of Lethbridge athlete Meg Dyer, will be joined by 11 rookies this year.
Kook says that finding creative ways to build camaraderie between the new players while abiding the COVID-19 regulations set by public health authorities has been a challenge.
“We don’t have a meeting space and we don’t have the sort of teaching capabilities that we normally have at Merlis Belsher. We have to be creative; we have to be more clear on the ice,” Kook said. “We have to find a way to do things as a group without actually being together as a group.”
The 11 rookies are Mckenna Bolger, Jasper Desmarais, Kelsey Hall, Mallory Dyer, Jessie Herner, Emily Holmes, Sara Kendall, Brooklyn Stevely, Colby Wilson, Jayda Sachs and Kendra Zuchotzki, making up just above 40 per cent of the team.
The team started out their practices in small groups with some members missing at the beginning of Fall Term. By Oct. 1, they were skating as a full team, and Kook stresses that skating together is vital.
“One of the things [the team] agreed on is that they would much rather train together as a team if they could,” Kook said.
Winter Term sports cancelled
On Oct. 15, Canada West and U SPORTS announced the cancellation of their nationwide winter competitions due to COVID-19. The announcement came just two weeks after they said they would announce their decision no later than Nov. 2. The other sports affected by this decision are men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and wrestling.
In an email to the Sheaf,Kook says that the team was disappointed in the decision.
“It was not expected as they were awaiting a decision to be made on Nov. 2,” Kook said.
Despite the cancellation, the women’s hockey team will continue practicing during this off-season. They will focus on building habits and plays that they can use to hopefully kickstart the fall camp in the 2021-22 season.
“We’re going to make the most of this non-season to teach and develop our ‘young’ team,” Kook said. “We have such a large first year group of players that training and implementing this training into a game situation is important to bring them up to speed.”
At this point, Kook says they are not sure that interprovincial play will occur anytime soon, but the team will continue to practice regardless of the decision.
“We are hopeful for the new year and starting to make plans should we be permitted to,” Kook said.