By Woodard, Dale on August 28, 2020.
A start date for the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League remains up in the air, but the Lethbridge Val Matteotti bantam AAA Golden Hawks were back on the ice last weekend and earlier this week.
The bantam squad kicked off what will be a month of Lethbridge Minor Hockey Association tryouts at the other age levels with their tryout camp Saturday through Tuesday at the ATB Centre.
As the AMBHL continues to determine a start date for the 2020-21 season after the COVID-19 pandemic hit back in March prior to league finals, roughly 85 hopefuls donned their blades for the four-day camp at the arena on the westside.
“For the situation we’re running into this year with the COVID pandemic I think that’s a pretty good number,” said new Golden Hawks head coach Geoff Oster.
The AMBHL nearly completed its season before the pandemic hit in mid-March.
The league had completed its North and South Regional finals March 12 before COVID iced the remainder of the playoffs with the Lloydminster Bobcats slated to play the Red Deer Rebels in the final.
Golden Hawks, however, were able to finish their season, going 11-22-0 in the regular season before getting swept in two games by the Ram South Division-leading Rebels at the end of February.
As they await a starting date for the new season, Oster noted the excitement of returning to the ice last weekend.
“I think they’ve had quite enough of staying at home and the restrictions this is bringing. This gives them a little bit of relief and they’re able to go out and have some fun with some people.”
In keeping with COVID-19 protocols, the Golden Hawks followed regulations laid out by the City of Lethbridge and the LMHA during the weekend camp.
“The kids show up 15 minutes before their ice session,” said Oster. “They have an area they can change (in) and put their skates on and they bring their bags out to the bench. Then when they’re done and off they have 15 minutes to get their skates off and depart the building. The ice is actually in really good shape because we have a half hour in between each session rather than a quick flood. So it gives everybody a chance to recharge and if we have anything we need to talk about we’re able to do that then. The kids seem to be buying into what has been laid out and that’s the most important thing.”
After making a some cuts following the opening four days, the Golden Hawks will continue tryouts this weekend at the ATB Centre.
“We have two groups we’re working with,” said Oster. “We’ll be working with those two groups for two days and then we’ll make some more releases. I’m not sure what date we have to be down to on our numbers, but we want to be able to get to a point where we can have more coaches on the ice so we can get everybody acclimated to each other, that’s the biggest thing.”
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