House hockey league players frustrated by paused season
KITCHENER -- House league hockey seasons are on ice for some leagues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Kitchener Minor Hockey Association said the shutdown is due to red tier restrictions and parents said they feel unfairly penalized, since kids at other levels are still getting ice time.
Ten-year-old Markus Higgins and his friends have resorted to running drills in the parking lot with their season suspended.
"I was mad, really sad, really angry," Higgins said.
The Kitchener Minor Hockey Association said it's only suspending the season for house league players. Rep zone teams are still playing, but there are no spectators and a maximum of 10 people on the ice.
"They just decided that the house league players are not going to make the NHL and therefore they matter less," parent and volunteer coach Scott Higgins said.
Some parents said it's causing confusion and frustration.
"Don't pick some winners and some losers to a point where kids go home crying because their hockey season is over, but their best friend in their class still gets to play hockey," Scott said.
The association's website said the decision to suspend the season for house players was made after a survey found that's what a large number of participants wanted.
They also said the season isn't cancelled and officials are working on augmented programs for players who still want ice time.
"KMHA understands that parents and players are concerned but we need time to finish these designs and get them into the hands of our users. Please assist us in focusing on these programs so all KMHA players have a chance to play," a statement from the KMHA board of directors said in part.
However, the rules aren't the same for all hockey associations across the region.
"For our players, we're still all systems go," said Greg Best, vice president of the Waterloo Minor Hockey Association.
Waterloo players can still hit the ice following red tier guidelines.
"We want to make sure every kid has a chance to play regardless of their skill level," Best said.
Cambridge officials said it's not as easy as splitting up the ice equally between skill levels. House league games are postponed this weekend while they figure out the next steps.