Silver Stick tourney underway in Sudbury amid COVID-19 spike
A hockey tournament is one of the most significant times in a young hockey player's career, and one of the region's biggest is currently underway in the Greater Sudbury area.
The Sudbury Silver Stick Tournament is taking place at four different ice pads across the city. But with a spike in COVID-19 numbers, they've had to take a lot into consideration.
"It started back in June when we had our annual general meeting with another 70 Silver Sticks in the meeting," said tournament director Peter Michelutti. "It was do we go ahead this year or do we not go ahead this year and they said no, we have to go ahead and make hockey strong again."
Michelutti said tournament organizers worked in 'lock step' with Public Health Sudbury & Districts to make sure this could become a reality.
He said their hearts sank a little after learning of the COVID-19 outbreak among the Sudbury Wolves. They would have cancelled two days before the tournament, but health officials said they were OK with it going ahead.
"We don't want any bad press and we don't want to see anyone get sick so we're making sure everything is done properly," said Michelutti.
"Even our volunteers, we have glass between our work stations," he said.
Michelutti said almost all the calls they have received from families were supportive about moving head with reduced capacity.
"All the teams called back and said they're coming, so you know we assured them that we're working daily with the health department and the city of Sudbury," he said.
One of those men he's been working with is Adam Ranger, the health unit's environmental support officer.
"We reached out to the organizers initially to talk about their COVID plan in terms of what they're planning on doing in terms of keeping it a COVID-safe event," Ranger said.
Double vaccination required
"They did have a lot of media on their website for the people who would be participating in the tournament that included the double vaccination requirement, 50 per cent capacity at the rinks."
Public Health also forwarded a letter from medical officer of health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe outlining the concerns they have about people coming into the region and taking it seriously.
The letter has since been shared by other health units, North Bay Mayor Al McDonald and the City of North Bay.
"We've been in contact with them about expectations, like no loitering in the arena, having teams come dressed prepared and getting ready to play and then basically exiting with mask use on the one side," said Ranger.
"We've also reached out to the arena management, as a facility they're going to be responsible for proof of vaccine at the door."
More than 800 players have descended on the city for 101 games, playing in six divisions with a total of 43 teams.
Four ice pads will also be used, the two at Countryside and at rinks in Copper Cliff and Walden.
Sudbury Minor Hockey Association's Tannys Laughren has been their COVID-19 lead. A hockey mom herself, she works in the healthcare field.
'I want people to be safe'
"You know I want people to be safe, you don't want anyone to get sick, you don't want anyone to be put at risk," Laughren said. "I do think they've put in all the safety protocols as indicated by Public Health."
Nickel City Hockey Association president Gus Lescault said there were a couple players who could no longer attend due to close contacts with COVID-19, but for the most part, his players will be there.
"Those who qualified, those who entered are all participating and I can tell you I have not received one negative complaint, feedback, emails from any of our parents," said Lescault.
There was also a Sudbury Timberwolves team that had to pull out at least minute due to COVID-19.
Ranger said Public Health has high hopes for the weekend and what this will achieve.
"Definitely the kids having a great time, a sense of normalcy that hopefully this can bring to them and at the end of the day, everyone goes home and has memories of the event and not COVID," he said.
The Silver Stick tourney runs until Sunday.